Soooo….I guess I’m back. Back to writing, back to talking, back to blogging or whatever you want to call this. Once again, just when I thought it was safe to hang up the keyboard, apparently we’re back at it again. Back to the racist things happening in our society. We seem to be back where we were 4 years ago when I wrote about it then. Then again, when I think about it, we just seem to STILL be in the place we were then. By that I mean, we are still talking about the same issues that we spoke on then. The same issues that the black community has dealt with for the past few “centuries”. I thought to start with years, or decades, but centuries seemed to fit the bill a little better. If you don’t know by now, and have been living under a rock, the news has been heavy laden with the killing of another unarmed black man at the hands of the police. Police Brutality. The old backing of the Blue is back. The statements that ‘Not all cops are bad’ is back. Black Lives vs All Lives Matter is back. But this time…For some reason or another, feels different. This time, BLM movement has some help. The protesting of the black community have been now escorted by the likes of members of other cultures. Not only in the United States, but around the world. People from all continents are finally, and I do mean finally coming to the aid of their black brothers and sisters. Blacks are finally being protected by the others members of the one race. The Human Race. And I’ll be honest with you. For some us, it couldn’t have come at a moment too soon. It’s a much needed breath of fresh air. We’ve been waiting for other cultures, especially white folks to jump on board with this things we call ‘civil rights’. Don’t get me wrong, among the 400 some odd years of oppression of blacks, there have been plenty of white people that have assisted in getting the message of the struggle out to the world. And to the members of that portion of the community, I say thank you. You have always been there for us, even when we didn’t know we needed the help. And we haven’t always been kind to you. But I want to make it plain that we hear you, we now see you, and we want you to be a part of this.
But wait, I’m not finished…because there’s always another side to things. Another way to look and view how things are and whether or not the change is truly for real. Is America and the World, again, going to be that pacifier to the black community? That spouse, which admits wrong doing, only to get back what he/she believes they’ve lost. Then wait for the time when things get back to ‘normal’ only to go back to doing things the ‘good ole’ way’. Again, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth and not be grateful for what’s happening. I do, however, have one question that may upend this whole conversation.
Why now? Why is 2020 the year where you finally decide to be on the side of right? I absolutely believe people have the right to change their mind and their way of thinking, but WHY NOW? What happened to George Floyd affected you so much, that NOW you think it’s time for a systematic change? I really wish I could understand this incredible change of heart, but I just have more questions at this point than answers. Why are so many companies, now calling out the terrible acts of the WORST of the WORST Police Officers? Why does Target, Ben and Jerry’s, or the NFL, now care about the lives of Breonna Taylor, or Trayvon Martin, or George Floyd, or Ahmaud Arbery? Now they care about what happened to Michael Brown or Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile. And my question is why now? Where were you all when those things actually happened? Why are you taking the moment to recall their names in this moment? Were you waiting for the body count to pile up to a certain number? Were you waiting for us to be the ‘thugs’ that you already called us, when riots ensued? Why Now?
After speaking with many people the answer could be in the current events. The answer could be in how this environment of COVID-19 has affected us all. It could be that the coronavirus has forced us all to take a long look at ourselves, and allowed us to ‘sit and watch’ as well as bear witness to what really happens in the this country when it comes to acts of police violence as it pertains to the black community. And when I say ‘us’, I actually mean white folks. The bottom line (MONEY) is affected so much so, that companies have to pay attention and watch the news daily, hour by hour to see if there is a break in this pandemic. So, yes, they were finally able to see it on the news. But I for one, can’t help to be skeptical of this new found empathy. I have the sense that says, ‘You didn’t care about me then, when you knew much worse was going on. So I have a difficult time believing that you care about me now.’ Of course I believe the questions that white folks have are real. I think that some do want to know why these events tend to happen. Maybe what angers me, is the length of time it took for that ‘White Outrage’ to actually come. And you say, we’re always late to the party.
UPDATE: In the days I have been taking to write this, several more Black people have been KILLED at the hands of the police. LITTERALLY. And the problem isn’t that this man was being arrested, it’s that the police in that moment became judge, jury, and executioner.
It’s not fair. It’s never been fair. And now I’m supposed take your statement or your money, as sincere. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. White America in general has shown, that you don’t really care about us. Oh, you care about the optics. You REALLY care about what you look like to the rest of the world. So you make your statements and say ‘the time to stand with our Black brothers and sisters is now.’ Yeah, it sounds great and some of you have the best of intentions. I just want to see where your head is at six months from now, when sports are again at the forefront. I want to see you when Disney Land re-opens. I want to see you when the Oscar nominations come out. Or better yet, next year when another black man is slain in the streets, or hung. Or Lynched. Or when another 6 police officers are responsible for choking a man. Or when there is almost another ‘Emmett Till’ situation in Central Park as it did a little over a month ago, and where will you be then?
You may not see a problem, being that you are here for us now. My position is that you’re here now, because there’s literally nothing else for you to do. It was the only way you could get out of the house during a pandemic. It’s a way for your company to be on the right side of history. To that, I say, SHAME ON YOU. Shame on you all for allowing the time to pass. To look at us and blame us for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. To look at us and say we were lifelong criminals before this incident, when it had nothing to do with what happened. For asking us to think about Black Lives, in the moments where Black Lives should have mattered to YOU. But they didn’t. And I can’t actually say with all sincerity that they really matter to you now.
I will, however remain cautiously optimistic. That your task forces, and your moments of finally looking into the mirror of American history will show you that we have always been here, for you. Helping you build this country. We’ve always been here, loving and being that Village it takes, when it comes to raising your children too. We love you, even when you don’t even love us back. We embrace you, even when you fight us, hurt us, KILL us. We still find a way to get up, go to work, and even defend you. Now it’s your turn to be there for us. It’s your turn to LOVE US. It’s your turn to DEFEND US. Or at the very least, obey the rules of the Constitution that you wrote. That you spend so much time quoting to the rest of the world. Dear America, if you are ready to be the “Greatest Country in the world”, this is your moment. Seize this moment. Answer the question of “WHY NOW?”
Because…IT WAS ALWAYS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. And it’s never too late to look in the mirror, adjust yourself, and Do the Right Thing.
So here it is…I mean Here WE ARE…Heavon and I. Me and Heavon. Austin… I still love how that sounds. AND truth be told there was a time when, A) I wasn’t sure if it would actually happen, and B) I almost made it end prematurely. Today, on September 20, 2018 is a celebration of our 10th year of marriage. Ten years of ups and downs. Ten years of happy times and not so happy times. Ten years of being amazing, and of…you guessed it, struggling. And believe me when I tell you, we have. Been all those things. We’ve been so happy at times, that I felt like Luther Vandross in the sense of the song ‘NEVER TOO MUCH’, because her 1000 kisses were never enough. And then there were times when I felt that I needed to get away from her. Where she didn’t want me near. And even if she did she was just too hurt by some of the things I had done to be what and who I wanted and needed at the moment. But we survived…We survived a stint in the NICU when our daughter Samaya was born. We survived the days of me sleeping on the couch, and us not talking. The months of not knowing whether or not we’d be married the next year and how it would affect our children. We survived it all, and I thank God every day for it.
What makes me most thankful is that I finally learned the most important thing about marriage. I learned that it actually isn’t about falling and being in LOVE. It’s about FORGIVENESS. Not about the better days, but surviving the worse ones. It’s about GRACE and being able to extend that very grace to someone when you believe they no longer deserve it. I learned about that very thing when I had to be forgiven. And because of that forgiveness, I learned how to forgive me as well. I hope I am staying on subject with this whole thing…I guess I digress a bit, so bare with me.
This marriage has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I realize that without her, and I do mean Heavon (Garrett) Austin, there would be no me. My parents gave me to her, and her parents to me, and she has never failed me (even when I thought she did). She has been my best friend, my lover, my confidant through it all. Through births, through deaths, there has been no one that I’ve wanted to be with more everyday of my life than her. And while she would probably argue that I don’t have to see her everyday, I know that my life has been better with each day she has been. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to say that marriage is perfect, because mine isn’t. It is however, gratifying. It’s worth it, and NO the grass surely isn’t greener. (Again, just water your grass). It is the most extensive faith-walk one could ever know. Man, there’s so much that I have learned throughout our time as one, that I can say it. I LOVE HER. That’s what truly matters. And when it’s all said and done, what keeps me is that very thing. It’s also knowing that the small things, while we can bicker over them, don’t really mean much in comparison to not being with her. She is…my crown jewel. My PRetty LAdy. She’s my everything. And truth be told, I almost kick myself on the days where I remember that I almost gave it up, for nothing at all. Without her, there’d be no Samaya, no Garrett, etc…And that’s why I write this today. On the day we celebrate us.
TO ALL Those who are married and un-married alike. I say this…whatever anniversaries you celebrate. Be proud of where you’ve come from. Because I stand here with so much pride in not only what we’ve accomplished, but what we ultimately WILL get to. THere’s no one in the world I’d rather have by my side. I can’t sleep when she’s gone, I just can’t be without her. And honestly. I never want or wanted to be. It’s always be you BABE! Because of your smile, your laugh. Even when you cry. I always aspire to impress and become the man of your dreams. Because you certainly are the woman in all of mine. I’m not saying all this for kudos or to be sweet. I’m saying this because It took about 10 years to really GET IT. TO really understand that I could go out and be with someone else, and maybe find some type of happiness. The truth is though, no one will ever be HEAVON. The way the God made her, was literally made for me, faults and all…And as a man, I work every day to live up to that standard, that she helped me learn. That’s why I am happy on the anniversary of our 10th year together. Why I call it 10 years Stronger. Because with each day, with each trial, each year. WE become STRONGER. Again, let me say this:
Thank you…for an AMAZING 10 years…and I’m praying for a million more with you. I LOVE YOU!!
How do I Love Thee…
Let me count the ways…
I wish I could say that it was just as easy as writing a poem, but in today’s marriages we often find that the reasons we married someone aren’t the things we remember when we’re going through issues.
Hence this blog…I have been married for almost 10 years, and 2 years ago I was in that place. I couldn’t remember the reason why we got married. I thought we were so very different that maybe we didn’t “fit” the way I once thought. I was in a dark, dark place, as I’ve said before. The problem with that dark place was that I never considered that in marriage, people do change. When you feel hurt, you adjust to that hurt, or maybe build a wall. Brick by brick, piece by piece, those hurts mount up into something that we don’t always know is there. When I say that I just mean that you could be hurt and when you say you’re over something or have forgiven, maybe you’re just saying to yourself, “Well that’s another piece of the wall going up.” Maybe you’re also saying that you don’t want to be hurt again by that person or anyone for that matter. I know that’s how it always worked for me. Whenever someone would hurt me I was probably the most unforgiving of them all. I wouldn’t allow anyone to get close to me. Even and especially my wife. I used that hurt, that pain, as a device to punish her. Not physically BY ANY MEANS. I just mean that I used my pain to not open up to her. To silence the voice I had, and to stuff it all inside. I used that hurt because I just didn’t want to be disappointed again. The truth of the matter is by stuffing that hurt inside, I only made the issues we had worse. Everything she said to me, would be like…”See….that’s why I don’t talk, because when I do, I just cannot talk to her…” or “she doesn’t understand me…she never will. There’s no use in talking about a subject we’re always gonna disagree on.” Yep…I was that guy. I made it seem as though the issue was resolved when truth be told, I just didn’t want her words to hurt me anymore. I was just trying to spare myself the disappointment of her saying “No” or her disagreeing with me. The funny thing about all of that is that I love the idea of debating with someone. But I will say that you can’t fight when the other party won’t.
My wife is a fighter, and I was a runner…But I thank God that it didn’t keep her from Loving me. I thank God that she is willing to fight. I say all of this because most marriages will never be what they are purposed to be if you don’t remember the reasons why you married them in the first place. And let me first say that I’m not talking about a place that you need or are codependent on someone. I’m speaking merely of the reasons why you believed they were marriage material in the first place. I’ll be completely honest and tell you that from the moment my wife and I had our first conversation over the phone, I knew she was special. I knew she was marriage material. The reason being is that she was always so Understanding…There was so many things I’d say to her (too many to remember) and she’d always be there. She always spoke to me from a friend’s perspective. And for that reason she became my very best friend. I just believed that I could talk to her about literally ANYTHING and we’d be alright. Did I mention, she just understood…and she was SO OPEN…to me and who I was at the time.
She was also intelligent and could go anywhere with me. She was my Road-dog…Wherever I was, or was going, she was the first person I wanted to invite or be there. It wasn’t that I didn’t have others to bring, it’s just I never felt more confident in myself than when she was around. There’s something about her that exudes influence and favor. People just want to hear what she has to say. She didn’t have it all together, but her common sense just made it seem like she did. Not a hair out of place, makeup was flawless, and had the mind to match. She was and still is beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I had some ladies out there that I thought were fly. I thought I was the man for all intensive purposes. I was fine, smart, and as arrogant as they come. And she could still hang with me. She made me better. So much better. And at the time, I knew it.
She was also so very loyal. No matter what we’ve been through, the breakups, the makeups…the fights, the issues, she has always been there. I mean just been there. Fellas…have you ever had a lady that was just THERE? I mean ride or die. That put up with all of your SHIT…the nonsense. The ‘in-your-feelings’ moments we men tend to have? Y’all don’t understand. She IS this amazingly vigilant person, who puts her own feelings aside and tries to get over things without talking about them, because she loves me THAT much. I just realized that. I just thought about how much she LOVED me. She Loved me when I was trying to figure out who I was. She loved me when I was broken in pieces and couldn’t put them back together. She Loved me when I walked away and still let me back in. Those are just a few reasons. Besides those, she’s consistent and confident in herself. She knows who she is and is not easily swayed by the world around her. She’s her own person. And she’s amazing for those reasons.
I write all this to say and to suggest that all of us have reasons why we married our spouse. The key is remembering that some of those same things that you fight about every day, week, or month, are also probably part of the reason why you married her. I can tell you the Truth about something in terms of why I truly wanted to be with/marry my Pretty Lady. The number 1 reason is: SHE’s Not ME or Like Me. She’s so TOTALLY different from all that I am, that it absolutely Compliments me. We butt heads so much. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have things that are similar like our Value systems and how to raise children, our faith, and our supreme love for all things Teen Mom (I Can’t STAND Farrah, and that damn Cailyn…). We enjoy laughing and I enjoy talking to her, because she’s one of the most open minded people I know. Like I said there’s a reason for everything. And everybody has their own reasons for marrying the person that you did. And believe it or not, those reasons were sound reasons…
All these marriages out there ending for issues that can be resolved if you just have a bit of patience. If we could consider that if you’re not out there cheating…or beating, your differences are rarely irreconcilable. You can get through anything whether you agree or don’t agree. Weigh it out…it’s not always as big of a deal as we (I mean I…) make it. And truth be told it will take some compromise on both of your parts to get and to stay on the same page. I’m just at a point in my life where I believe most divorces can be prevented. Prevented if you not just ask Why Did I Get Married? But also actually answer the question. When you do answer…don’t say I don’t know…truly explore that things and see what you come up with. Chances are a lot of those things you wanted are still there within that person. Sometimes you just have to get past yourself in order to see them.
More to come…
Over the past few weeks I’ve talked a lot about me and some of the things I’ve been through. My world at times has been convoluted with crazy events or pain, even disappointments that I’ve experienced. The most prevalent thing that I can talk about in all of my experience is my depression. It lasted for almost 2 years, and it was the most serious space I’ve ever been in. I also realize that through going through that much turmoil within myself that there had to be some type of effect on those around me. I’ve already spoken about the days where my daughter wonders if I’m coming back home or if I’ll be gone for a while. That’s surely painful, but what I didn’t and haven’t really spoken about are the fears of the things I almost and could have lost had I not gotten the help I needed, and come out of that place.
For those that know me, my year started out with a new Hashtag, a new theme for my world. #FAMILYMATTERS. It’s a theme that I prayed about and spiritually believe in. God allowed me to see myself through the lens of my family in ways I didn’t know possible. In that dark place in my mind, I convinced myself that my children didn’t need me. Or that they’d be better off without me. I thought that their grandparents and mother would do a better job of influencing their life than I ever could. I didn’t think I was needed. To be completely 110 about it, that’s where I truly almost failed. I failed in thinking that there was anyone that could replace me in my own life. Well, Jason, when you say it like that, it sounds silly…Yeah, I know. As men, as parents, as fathers, we have to understand that God has entrusted the lives of our children to us. They are just on loan. And it is our job to instill in them the values, and goodness that were given to us. Behaviors are taught, no inherited. In other words, when someone is good to someone, they were taught to be good, even more so what is good. The values that I have for my children in treating others the right way, cannot be taught the way I teach them. The way my son and daughter do things will come from me and their mother. No one else can give them that, and I do myself a disservice to believe anything otherwise.
I mention all of that because when I lost sight of that, I was in danger of someone else doing for them what only I am supposed to do. I’ll keep it real. The thought of another man, person, or otherwise raising the children that I helped to birth sickens me. Not because another man isn’t capable of doing well in certain areas, but BECAUSE I AM STILL ABLE…I still have my life, my faculties, and my values that were given to me. Things that no one person can ever take away. And to think that I was about to give up my place (cause someone can’t take that away, trust me) is a real cause for concern.
That last two lines of the previous section are a big theme for this subject. The moment I pictured another man with my wife, I cried, and cried, and cried. I saw someone else making her smile and it almost killed the very heart of me. But when I thought about it, I realized that it was my doing. Something I will always be hard on myself about. My wife has been everything to me for the past 17 years of my life. I have known and loved her for almost half of my life. And to believe that it was time for me to give up on the woman I call the ‘LOVE OF MY LIFE’ just…well…it just…I don’t know…I don’t know how to describe how that feels. I guess I could equate it to having a hole in my chest. Or missing a vital organ. My issues caused me to think that it was okay to walk away, and that was a deafening feeling. But a decision that didn’t just hurt her, it hurt me too. I just couldn’t believe we weren’t gonna make it. That’s what I kept telling myself. And rather than tell her, that it’s not what I really wanted, I just sat there, in my stupor. I sat there and wallowed in my own mess. Some of are out there being so comfortable in chaos, that we don’t or can’t even appreciate how good we have it. I honestly thought that was the right thing to do. As if that was acceptable. I thought for some reason someone else could be better for her, when truth of the matter was she had who she believed was best. When I finally saw what I had done, it was this long hard gaze into a mirror. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. There was someone there, but there was almost no SOUL to the person that did what I did. I didn’t think about what I was doing, I simply ran. And that’s honestly tough to confess today. Even though we’re in a much better place, I still have trouble thinking about it all. Simply because it could have gone another way. I still feel the doubt in her voice at times. It’s something I will have to deal with for as long as it takes. And I will, because I understand now. I see that I CAN’T LOSE her again. I can’t give UP All that WE Have, and have established together.
IN a matter of 4 seconds, I was contemplating giving up something another thing that didn’t necessarily belong to me. My LIFE. And I know for me it wasn’t even serious in the grand scheme of things, but I am a very internal person, and those 4 seconds felt like an eternity. This in no way shape or form is HUGE on the grand scale of suicide attempts of others or actual successful suicides (CAN WE really CALL SUICIDE Success??). It was however, a turning point for me. It was what I needed to know I had to get some type of help. Some type of counseling. I felt my voice leaving me. I was in the Sunken place as the movie Get Out suggests. I could see it all happening, but it was as if I couldn’t speak up for myself. I was truly Broken at the time. I wanted to be better, but so much was happening around me that I didn’t think I could be. At least I had convinced myself of that. All in all, I knew that if I didn’t get help, I would never be well again. I would never hear my voice again, I’d never be me again. It’s a victory, Yes. But it doesn’t mean I’ll never have to fight again.
I say all this to basically say, that if you haven’t taken inventory, because for some reason you don’t think it’s important. You really need to. You need to count the blessings that you have. And when you do you’ll see that you have more than you actually think you do. More to love, more to live for and more to Lose. There’s probably so much more to lose than you’ll ever know. Also think how it would truly affect other people if you weren’t here. Our spouses, our children. Those are the areas of loved ones that we affect the most. We don’t take a second to think that we have an impact that isn’t always spoken about. We are also appreciated much more than we could ever know. We just have to find ways to see it. We have to be cognoscente of the things that got us here. The experiences that we have shared with others, and that make us who we are. It’s just a life lesson that I’m talking about today. I’m talking about understanding that you haven’t lost everything just yet. But if you give up, and bow down to the forces meant to break you, you absolutely Will. And losing everything doesn’t just HURT you. It doesn’t just cost for YOU. It cost EVERYBODY you know…It’s COST EVERYTHING…
More to come…
Today we have moments like the #MeToo and #TimesUp spearheaded by multiple races. Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Rose McGowan Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Bullock, Rosario Dawson, Selma Hayek, just to name a few. They are battling the likes of the Harvey Weinstein’s and Matt Lauer’s out there who have taken advantage of their position in show business for years. The claims of sexual assault and harassment now plague their careers because of this unified movement. While there is an absolute need for this in society, the sad truth is that the public can only handle one type of serious movement at a time. With that said, movements like #TakeaKnee and #BlackLivesMovement again are poised to take a backseat yet again. Here’s a question, did anyone every really take them seriously to begin with. More and more Americans came out on the side of #45, saying those players were disrespecting the flag, and therefore forgot about the movement against police brutality. They forgot about the kids being killed in the black community for no reason. Now it’s all about #MeToo. Next year, it will be something else.
Which brings me to the subject at hand.
Let’s face it…Be real with ourselves…it’s 2018…
And Black People getting no closer to being loved by other races, than we were 20 or 50 years ago. Racism is more poignant than ever. The conversation of the subject itself is so polarizing that no one will touch it with a 10 foot pole. I have white friends, that I’ve asked and called upon to speak on it. But they remain silent for fear of the backlash in their own community. They just choose. For all intensive words…to stay neutral.
And to be honest I would say that it makes me sad, but it doesn’t. It’s just par for the course at this point. This is the way it has always been. And it’s not going anywhere. For the past 250+ years there has been a concerted effort for Blacks to be included and indoctrinated into this American society. We as black people tend to oftentimes be overly concerned with whether or not, things are fair. Tell me, when is the last time you noticed how fair things in this country were? When has life in general been fair? There have been people getting their hearts broken, dying for nothing through the course of history. That will never change. One more time. That will never, ever change.
Black People have tried and worked so hard for inclusion over the centuries. We should have a come to Jesus moment and think about it for a moment. Have you ever had something, and then had a friend who always talked about how good they believe you have it? Everything they say is about what you have, and how they wish they had what you have. Also how they’d do anything just to have the opportunities that you have been afforded….Doesn’t that get old after a while? Doesn’t seem like we’re doing more talking, than doing? Does it not feel like we’ve been saying that same thing, since we were slaves? It’s wrong. It’s envy. And we’re a beautiful people (Black People), and we don’t need to envy ANYONE. Our cultures boasts some of the greatest innovators, minds, athletes, teachers, scholars, pastors, engineers, technicians, of all time. A black man was the first doctor to perform open heart surgery. Created the stop light, the gas mask, even the home security system. Oh yeah, and that heart you love so much, was helped out by the pace maker that a black man helped crate. Became president, and some of the most renowned spiritual minds in the world. We’ve overcome so many things. Now we need to learn to overcome ourselves. Did you know the first female millionaire in the US, was Madam C.J. Walker. She created a successful empire of something she created FOR BLACKS…
And that’s the point. Because that’s the way we’ve gotten by without being included, or given the freedoms we should have always been afforded. We tend to expect white folks to help us out with this too. But do we REALLY need their help? Sure, they hold positions, and seats, and opportunities, but I’m sure you didn’t graduate Summa Cum Laude, just so you could wait on another person to give you an opportunity to prove your worth. Fair enough, there will be some things in the world that we will need to be given. But those other things, those unalienable rights, those necessities for jobs, and health care…Oh those things can be created. Created by us.
There have been many people that have gone out of their way to empower black people to do more. They’ve spoken at schools, they’ve become leaders of our communities. And yet somehow, their words don’t resonate in each of us to unify. It’s like the words of these amazing individuals are falling on deaf ears. Hmmm… I wonder if Dr. King, Malcolm X, President Obama, in their many wonderful speeches to empower us, had us still dealing drugs in our communities, because that was the only way we could survive. I wonder how they felt about us going into our neighbors homes and robbing stealing from each other. Or better yet, that we’d kill each other because of a different colored bandanna we wore. Hmmm. Interesting…to say the least. I don’t think they had any of that in mind when they gave those beautifully crafted speeches.
Even the slaves that wanted to be free so badly couldn’t fathom killing each other. They just wanted to be free. They wanted so badly to get a taste of what it was like to not be whipped on a daily basis, that they were willing to band together for the greater good. That’s what I’m talking about here. Blacks want each other to support their own businesses, but don’t wanna take the time to put out a good product. You want the support regardless. Check this out bruh…I’m not gonna eat at your spot, if your food doesn’t taste good. It’s like eating the food of someone who can’t cook just because you love’em. Sometimes…it’s a McDonald’s night, because daddy burned the food. That’s real. That’s the way it is.
People put laws together that have jailed us…to screw us over…That might’ve been the intent. But ask yourself a question: Did the law created cause us to break it? Let’s be honest. If we’re gonna have the conversation, then the least we can do is keep it 110 right now…
The problem with inclusion isn’t so much that we need it, but it’s more that we are chasing after a waterfall here. We’re missing something that was actually never there for us. I mean don’t get me wrong, there have been those that would join blacks in the world, but for the most part, we’ve never been included or really invited to the table with all the “heavy hitters”. We’ve always had to exceed expectations to get there. That’s why I wonder why we care so much about assimilation in the first place. Michael Jordan’s talent got him noticed. His exceeding expectations got him to the table. But he didn’t stop there. He wasn’t content at sitting at the table. He ended up creating his own table. Oprah grew up poor, worked hard and got a seat at the table. But she wasn’t content with just being there. She left her own show, and dreamed bigger. Rather than just have a radio or TV show. She created a conglomerate, that included a Magazine, a TV network and movies that she was able to create content that she wanted to see. With people that looked and had been through some of the similar things that she had. Along with people like Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, etc.
That’s where I’m getting at. It’s not a bad thing to want to be included in others. But it is a bad thing to expect other groups of people to do so for us. I could sit here and complain about how people like the Kardashians and Ellen, or whomever should be more adept to being for the rights of blacks and our movements. Support us the way we have supported them, but the truth of the matter is, I don’t have another life to wait for them to do come to that mentality. We just gotta do it ourselves black people. Start being great on our own. Let’s use some of that Black Girl/Boy Magic we brag so much about. Let’s get the job done, and be who we wanna be! Black is Strong! Black is Family! Black is Beautiful. Black is Powerful. Black is Prosperous and Luxurious. Never forget that!!
I know…it seems like just yesterday I was speeding back to San Francisco. My wife wincing and pain from each contraction. She’s such a trooper but this was a pain that we didn’t know how to fix. The nurses at the hospital told her that she was in labor. And 3 months early at that. What would we do? Was it the flying at such a late stage in the pregnancy? Was it something I did or forced her to do that she shouldn’t have while pregnant. I guess it’s something I’ll never know. We’ll never know. All I knew then was that she was coming. And there wasn’t much we could do to prevent it. The doctor’s told us that Heavon would be in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy.
I tried to be strong, but while she was waiting for her epideral I ran to the car balling, tears streaming down my face. I was soooo scared. Scared we’d lose the baby. Scared I’d lose the Love of My Life. I never could have imagined feeling that way, until she would get pneumonia a year later. New ailment, same fear. Life is scary. Especially when you have children. You try to protect them from so many things and realize you have absolutely no power to stop the worst things from happening. Yeah, being a parent taught me that. But it also taught me that God is so amazing. And that His love could be replicated by what is a simple thing for Him. For us, she is a miracle. A miracle baby, a miracle toddler, and now a miracle little girl. She is the very heartbeat us. She is the one who kept us together when we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. If God would’ve taken her at the time, I don’t know if we would have survived it. But His grace spared us. And it’s given us some of the best moments in 5 years we could ever know.
I cherish moments like this. Where we can celebrate birthdays. Where can feel like we actually made a difference in something in this world. God is and will always be the center of our lives. And His reminder of how perfect His love is, is right there. In our daughter. Samaya Sky Austin. She is so amazing. And I guess I could say, I might have been okay without her, but the truth of the matter is, Now I don’t know how we ever got along without her. She is a culmination of a Love that has lasted 18 years. Both she and her little brother. And today, on her day. January 3, 2018…I’d say. Happy Birthday Baby!!! The best is yet to come!!
I haven’t done this in a while, but it’s time. And usually at the beginning of the year I would do more of a year in review, but this year I’m starting off being something different. Doing something different. Rather than recap the past two years and talk about how crazy they have been, I am going to do what I believe God has wanted me to do all along. I am claiming the Victory!!!
Have you been to war, Jason?? Not quite. At least not the way all of you might imagine. I didn’t fight any battles, take up arms, in a literal since. But I did fight. Over the past two years I’ve been doing a lot of fighting. Fighting my family, fighting people I couldn’t see and fighting myself. I even fought with my wife and God over some things. More like a lot of things.
In the battle for self and knowing who I am, God saw me through some serious trials. He taught me that I wasn’t the leader I proclaimed myself to be. He also showed me what I looked like in the mirror (And believe me i wasn’t as sexy and beautiful as i think i am). I actually saw myself being judgmental of others and their situations. He had a way of reminding me that my mind could take me places I never wanted to go if I allowed it to. Dark places…very dark places. The lessons learned brought me to this place. To 2018. But before I got there I had to almost literally lose everything. And I say that with a grain of salt because the truth of the matter is that a lot of us allow our circumstances to dictate what we do. I wasn’t losing everything so much as I was allowing what I had gone through to loosen my grip on what I held dear. I was almost giving up.
Finding yourself and who you really are can be painful and hurtful, but I promise it’s worth it. A few days ago, while in church, I heard the pastor speak a message about being a dreamer. And in understanding our dreams we must let go of the expectation that everyone will be able to go with us on the journey we are about to embark on. That’s so true for me. I had to give up some things, and people. And it wasn’t necessarily giving up on the people in general. It was just weighing out the importance of them being in my life going forward. I also had to release some of my own preconceived notions that I previously held on to. In other words I had to change. Because where I was headed couldn’t hold the weight of my past.
I know it sounds cryptic but some of you have gone through similar things. Ranging from marital issues to a war with your mind. Many others have also had financial trouble. But like they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. Times when you have to just do things differently. Stop talking about things and just be the things. Take a leap so to speak. Trust me I know that stepping out on faith is a huge risk, and sometimes you’ll fall flat on your face. And believe me. I rarely feels like any good is coming out of it.
So where does this victory come in to play???
Well…here it is…God saved me…from myself. He restored my home, and my family. He renewed my mind. And not only that, but solidified and put me back together, stronger than ever. I honestly didn’t believe it was possible for him to do some of what He’s done. I’m not afraid to give credit where it is due. He became the calm in my storm and showed me that everything I ever wanted was right in front of me. And I didn’t have to venture out to go get it because He had already answered so many of my prayers. I was also able to get my life and mind back into focus on the things I wanted not just for family, but for me. To all you out there that want to be married and yet somewhat single. Prepare for your marriage not to work. Because if you haven’t discovered by now that being married to someone is a symbiotic process. You are an Individual to some degree but when you realize that you represent something greater than just you, that’s when the real process starts to take over. And you have to trust that process. And while to some those aren’t huge victories. They are victories nevertheless. Plus if you can’t learn to celebrate when you get something small, you’ll never appreciate when the big breakthrough comes.
My mother in law told me that working things out is tough, but it’s like rebuilding a road. At first it gets torn up and looks so ugly. Laden with potholes and cracks throughout the street. After tearing it down you get to lay down some new asphalt filling the holes and inconsistencies. You even get to make some of the original things you couldn’t see right. The street then gets flattened and smoothed over and ultimately has a brand new finish. The surface is made better than before….
A process for me to live by…one that is tangible
So what are my parting words after such a victory in the fact that I made it through? Here goes:
Be loving. Be truthful, faithful, and forgiving. And that love won’t fail. Ever. Trust in God. Trust in God. Trust in God. That’s the victory. The victory is knowing that no matter what 2016 or 2017 looked like. 2018 is here. And we don’t have to dwell on what was. Let’s move forward and be grateful for what is. Is it perfect? …not yet. But it’s still incredible in its own right. And that makes me…dare I say. Happy…
More to come…
More to come…
As much as I love to write and even read what I write I believe this is actually a tough subject for me to speak on. It is because this subject matter contains the very worst of me. It contains things I don’t even want my children to know getting older. It shows me in a light that oftentimes I am so uncomfortable with. But I really believe it’s time to tell this story. It’s been over a year that I’ve been wrestling with really talking about it but I guess this is what I am being led to do. I hope that whoever reads this can get a better understanding of me through this or just the subject as a whole.
The past two years have been what some would call tumultuous for me. They’ve been riddled With decision after bad decision. Choice after terrible choice. And some of which I look back on with shame because of how I acted in key moments.
The things I did could make any one think that I was either on drugs or just not in my right mind. And there it is, the latter of the two happened to me. And I’ll be the first to say that I never, not in a million years thought that I would take a moment to admit this. It’s because I believed in myself almost to a point of arrogance. I thought that there was nothing I couldn’t do. Nothing I couldn’t overcome. And while I still believe that to be true, I am now armed with the knowledge that I can do all things, just not alone.
You see my truth statement for today is that over the years I have come to suffer with bouts of depression. Now to how severe it’s been, I’m sure that’s for a doctor to say. But for me there have been moments when it got pretty bad. So bad in fact that there was a moment for me. A moment that I’m not sure if I even know anyone that has been this way. I just know that I had a moment when I was so riddled with guilt and shame from my decisions that I believed that I wanted to do harm to myself. And when I say harm, I mean I wanted to actually end my life. Now don’t get me wrong, thankfully I was able to snap out of it and realize that I couldn’t do my children or wife any good while not being on this earth. And even though I came out of it for the moment it wasn’t the end. I didn’t even realize at the moment what it was.
One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible says “As a man thinketh in his heart, so shall he be…”. That comes from Proverbs 23:7
I like it because it talks so much about the power of the Mind. I honestly don’t think that most people think about the things we will ourselves to do. We also don’t think about the trouble we could get ourselves into if we don’t take control or put some type of perspective into some of those thoughts.
I say all of that to say that this is a problem for not just my people, my community, my family, but a serious thing to address for many families and communities out there. There are so many cases out there where the signs of depression go untreated and even unnoticed. Yes you would think that it’s easy to determine to the factors or when someone out there is dealing with mental illness. But truth be told, there are so many that hide it well. In my case it started out pretty subtle, but ultimately got worse and worse because of my refusal to speak on it and admit that there was something wrong. Something I couldn’t handle on my own. For me in particular, hiding it only made it worse. So much worse until I got to a point where I just broke. And when I say broke, I could almost describe it as kind of being shattered into small pieces, not knowing which went where or how long it would take to put it back together. I was broken. I couldn’t control my thoughts or my emotions. I allowed life to become too much because I believed so much that it was all about me and how I handled things. That If I could mess it up by myself. Then I could fix it by myself. I couldn’t even fathom how wrong I was.
When you hear the phrases, ‘Battlefield of the Mind’ or ‘war of the Minds’ it really is that. Joyce Meyer and Flame knew what they were talking about respectively. It’s more than just a form of warfare. It’s a down right fight for your life under certain circumstances. People think that they can just overcome things on their own, but I want you to know there’s actually no shame in getting help. And for all you “believers” spiritual, and religious folk out there, you think that prayer is the thing that can get you through everything. I know I did. I thought that because I believed in God and that He is able to do all things, that it would get me through. The thing is, if you believe in God, you should know that God is not just one of faith, but of action. He has allowed for the different medicines for every illness. And this is no different. The medicine out there could be in the form of some drug, but for me it is in the form of counseling.
There are pastors, teachers, and many people alike who suffer from this very thing. Mental illness is very high in the black community as well. We tell ourselves that because we’re black and deal with so many different adversities daily, we should be able to get through this as well. And it’s true, we can get through it. But we must take the proper steps.
So why do I write all of this?
I do so because I want to warn others that even when you have this to deal with, not dealing with it comes with serious consequences. My battle of the Mind, told me that my own family didn’t need me. That they were better off without me. It told me, that all I was doing was hindering them. It also told me that my wife could do better than me. So much so that I convinced myself that my only option was to get as far away from them as I could. It told me that maybe God was wrong about us. Isn’t that something? You’d be surprise the things people hear when they are going through such things. You would think the love you have for something or someone couldn’t be swayed, but I’m here to say that once the Mind sets itself on something, it can be difficult to get past it. Just like if you are so angry at someone that it’s hard to get past. You start telling yourself that’s all you see. And after a while if not dealt with, the damage becomes even more difficult to get past or put it in your rear-view.
Am I done with depression, I don’t know, maybe…but not done because I’ll never get sad again. I’m done because I’ve acknowledged that it happens to me. Now I know the signs as well as the triggers. I also have the knowledge that God helps me to answer my own prayers as well concerning this. Through counseling. Through prayer. Through a strong support system. Also through being still. Stillness tells me not to move or make decisions when I feel that despair coming on. And speaking of a support system, I’m here to say, that sometimes that system cannot or doesn’t involve your immediate family. Because there will be times when our families are just not properly equipped to help us deal with this serious issue. Without the proper dealing with this there are so many long lasting effects. Believe it or not, some of which I deal with everyday.
I’m telling my story because I don’t want anyone out there to lose what I almost lost. I almost lost my wife, my children, and Last but not least, myself. Trust me when I tell you it is War. And war always has casualties. You can minimize them along with the wounds and scars if you just learn how to fight the battles. But just like most battles or wars, this one is winnable. We have to remember that with every battle, the one you are most likely to win, is the one that you don’t try to go at alone. If you remember anything I say at all , please, remember that.
More to come…
So here we are. Back again to discuss what it’s like to be Black, African American, and a person of color. Now don’t get me wrong, I love being black. I love my skin, the skin of my wife and kids, their hair and everything that comes with being black. I love our culture and the way we have such an influence on what society does artistically. So the question is, “Jason, if you could change anything about your life as a black person, what would it be?” Honestly?? I’m not sure if anyone wants me to answer this question, but just for the sake of being a writer I will say this: I personally would change the innate fear that all black people have. We fear that we will always be mistreated in this world. That we will always be slaves the eyes of whites (F&%K you JERRY JONES!). That we will always have to explain to our sons and daughters how to make it in a “white-washed” world or how not to be assaulted or killed by the police for no reason.
Yeah, that’s real. And most likely you can ask almost any black person you know. That’s what it’s been like ever since the Atlantic slave trade. A mentality that has plagued our race and culture for over 400 years. It’s the whole Staying “Woke” movement. Staying “Woke” means to just be aware of what the truth about the day and age is. Always being aware so that we don’t go back to becoming enslaved again. And I mean that both literally and figuratively.
You see the thing about being black is that I always (AND I DO MEAN ALWAYS) have to be concerned with social injustice. It doesn’t matter how far we’ve come or how much money we make. What parties or country clubs we get invited to join. Black people have always been the butt of the joke in every room (ask Jourdan Rodrigue). Take what’s going on in the world today. Recently an @ESPN analyst Jemele Hill was suspended for giving her opinion on a situation involving flag protests and mandates by an NFL owner to stand during the national anthem. She also two weeks before said that Donald Trump, the president, is a racist and white supremacist (something EVERYBODY knows). ESPN first warned Ms. Hill about her remarks calling them inappropriate, and just yesterday suspending her for calling out the social injustice of the NFL and it’s owners. So there’s two sides to this right? First side she works for the ESPN and she has an obligation to that company. We all know that companies that are in the public eye are not as keen on free speech as one would think. So she needed to be a bit more aware, the same way she said Cam Newton should’ve been (but that’s another story for another day). On the other hand, this was her personal twitter account and she should be able to express her own personal thoughts the way the president of this country does. (Hmmm) So isn’t it a bit of hypocrisy to say that she has to face retribution and the leader of the free world does not? That’s why we have to stay “Woke”. Because we have to be aware of issues that the average white person will never be concerned about. We have to worry about the president, who’s supposed to be looking out for our best interests as people of color as well. I mean but the truth is, chances are we probably only had a handful of people who held the office of President who weren’t racist. Maybe about 3. That’s the truth. Even the white folks that love black people and that aren’t racist don’t have to worry about the amount of issues and problems we have. Like I said it doesn’t matter what circles I run with.
I’m always gonna be Black. Till the day I die and even then some white person will refer to me as a “dead nigger”. That’s just how my life is gonna go. That’s how my son’s life will be as well. And it’s sad. Sad that I have to spend my days seeing white people call me or someone that looks like me out of their name. While they stay unaware of the issues the black community has to deal with. Of course there are some who might find empathy in the plight of blacks, but you’ll never know for sure. You’ll never walk 10 minutes in our shoes.
And here’s something you might not know. The truth about staying aware or “Woke” , is that it’s EXHAUSTING!!!! It makes us so tired. We try and try and try not to think about racism. We try to believe that every one is truly free. Or that there’s someone out there to speak on our behalf. But honestly, you just won’t let it die. Places and events like Charlottesville, VA won’t let it happen. Do you honestly think I wanna spend all my days being angry and thinking about this? Days where I worry about my son being shot because he was at the park pretending to serve and protect with his toy gun. He will emulate not only a black man who serves the public, but whites as well. But he’ll be called a thug on national TV. They’ll dig into his history, and say that he got suspended from school for smoking weed or getting into a fight. Or a spoiled millionaire who gets paid for playing a game. Or even worse. An ungrateful nigger who expresses his first amendment right to peacefully protest and kneel during the national anthem. They’ll say he’s disrespecting the flag (an inanimate object) when his grandfather fought in the Vietnam War for his rights and whites rights for freedom. When his uncle and cousins fought in the Gulf or Iraq or even Afghanistan to insure that he, as an American, who just so happens to be Black, can live without the fears his father currently lives with.
Yeah…the $hIT is definitely EXHAUSTING. We are so tired of it. We just wanna be free. That’s all we ask. Think about it.
More to come….
So I haven’t done this in a while, but I guess it’s probably time for one of my moments…You know, those moments where I decide to be completely transparent for a few minutes. At least for a portion of this blog. I honestly believe doing so helps me to know more about myself, and who I am meant to be for my life.
So here goes…
For most my life, I’ve had a part time job. Not the type of job that required any schooling. Not the type that I actually get paid for. It’s not a 9 to 5, but you can actually show up at any point in the day and still be good at it. I’m sad to say that I’ve probably being doing this job better than most for the past 20 years. That job is none other than that of a Judge.
Not only have I provided judgement for others and their situations, but I’ve also been the jury and executioner in the court of my own opinion. I’ve handed out life sentences, bans, fines, etc. Whatever I’ve deemed necessary for the time. I’ve done what most Christians do. I’ve told others that I believed in Jesus and what he is about, and yet, have created my own judgement for individuals when I saw fit. While at the same time not allowing myself to face the same possible punishment for my own crimes of morality. Ouch!!!! Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, it hurt to say it. But I guess the point of it all is whether or not I understood how it could have hurt others when I put them under the jail or microscope of my own imagination.
*****Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God*****
Now don’t get it twisted…I still believe in right and wrong. Still believe in black and white, but the truth of the matter is that I shouldn’t, we shouldn’t as believers or religious folk always be the one to hand out the trolls of punishment on others. We have to allow the True Judge to do his job at the end of the day.
When I think about being judgmental in situations I tend to think about my faith. I constantly go out of my way to say how different I am. 1. Because I’m a believer, and 2. Because I just don’t do things the way a lot of people do. Apparently I always thought that I was a living example of this moral code on how to live life. The fact that I didn’t drink or smoke or partake in certain things made me this moral authority or something. Then I discovered something recently. When or how did I become so “holier-than-thou?” Although I claim to be something different, that thought process makes me in fact, no different from the others. It actually makes me just like the rest. Just like the so-called saints that are out there in the abortion clinics, or keeping Muslims from this country. It makes me just like those that would judge a decision based off of what my eyes saw and not what actually happened. It’s as if the evidence presented showed one thing, but there was something that wasn’t actually brought to the table. But I only saw the circumstantial things…In trying to be better, I acted as if I actually was…and I’m writing to this to say, it’s not what I actually believe.
I believe in God. I believe in Love, and I believe all of us have come short of that on multiple occasions. Just as I do at times, people tend to rely on themselves, in addition to their intellect and their own personal experiences rather that what and who they know God or their creator to be. If He’s loving, then shouldn’t we be? If He’s forgiving, then shouldn’t we do the same? If He trusts us with the benefit of the doubt, then shouldn’t we treat others the way we want to be treated. I’m not gonna lie…this is, and has been historically a very tough lesson to learn.
Here’s a question I would ask to people who have been judgmental to others throughout their lives: Where has the way you treated others got you? Are you better off because of it? Are you a better person? Are you “different” than the rest? If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, then you need to be…
I thought I was being different from every one else by saying so or being different than my actions of my past. But what really makes you so different? Is it saying it or displaying it? It can come across as holier than thou, when the One you follow or say you follow was not that way. Trying to set yourself apart isn’t what Jesus ever did. He always embraced becoming part of the crowd and yet standing out. He always went in but his virtue is what shined through. I think a lesson we could truly learn is to not be so concerned about what others think of us. Or the fact that when we think or believe something, trying to impose that same belief on others because we think they should choose the same path. Stop trying so hard to be different and just be. That’s probably the best thing that can be done. Now I’m surely not saying it will be easy. What truly stands out about us as believers or non-believers alike, is the ability to be in any situation and maintain your life, your integrity, etc. That’s what Jesus did truth be told. I guess the hardest thing for me personally is moving past my own individual stereotypes and ideological thoughts concerning life. It’s been honestly tough for me. I don’t always know how to overcome my judging past. I do, however, know that I am NOT better than any other person. I guess the best thing I can take out of all this is that I do in fact know who I want to be. But am still trying to figure out who I am in that sense. Am I the man that goes to the crowd trying to reach them, or does my just living reach them? What’s the best way to teach, I ask? I have prayed that God teach me how to love. I mean really love in a way that helps others. Guess the only way to truly know how is to love Him and to learn more about myself.
It’s crazy when we often try to argue a belief that we don’t even practice ourselves. That’s why most people view the people who claim to be Christian with the side-eye . Why people could potentially view me that way. I guess I’m working to believe I can overcome all of it. The one thing that has given me pause, is being called to the mat on most of it. The thing is, all one can control is what they do. And the thing I’m trying to do best is be good and appreciative, and grateful. And I know I haven’t done the best job of that lately. Trust me when I tell you, there will be growing pains. But if you go through life thinking how you treat others, and how to apply the “Golden Rule”, you’ll most put down the gavel that you’ve used to judge so many, and start actually living your own life…
More to come…