She told me about the business her father owned and my mind automatically began to wonder. I wasn’t playing the victim or having a pity party, but as I listened to my White friend talk about her father’s endeavors as an entrepreneur, I couldn’t help but to think of the potential entrepreneur stories that my father and grandfather were robbed of. My grandaddy came to Chicago from Mississippi, during the Great Migration. He worked 3 jobs to provide a better life for my grandmother and their 4 boys. He worked until cancer claimed his life. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, because my father has the exact same work ethic. I’m proud to come from a family of hard working Black men. It’s who they naturally are, because they want to be. However, it’s who they HAVE to be as well. There’s no happy ending consisting of the playing fields being leveled, receiving 40 acres & a mule, or tokenism-free opportunities.
I attended a predominantly White Christian university. My first year was intense. I’m from the South side of Chicago and grew up around Black folks majority of my life. Even when we moved to Glenwood and was the only Black family on the block, my circle at school and life at home was all Black. It was my comfort zone. However, my college life began to stretch me. I had conversations about race, that I never had before. Tokenism. White Privilege. Racial Reconciliation. You name it, we talked about it. We even took Sankofa trips, where 25 White students and 25 Black students traveled down South visiting & discussing African American history. It may have seemed to be a bit much at times, but it was needed. All of it. However, on numerous occasions I would find myself on the floor of my dorm room crying, asking God why did He make me Black? Why did He choose for me to be born with a curse, never standing a chance? I couldn’t understand why my people had to fight so hard to endure, with nothing to show for ourselves. No land, no culture, nothing. We were robbed, and the more I studied my history, the more I dealt with a major identity crisis. My friends begged me to lay off the Pan African books and Lauryn Hill’s “MTV Unplugged” album for awhile, because it was literally driving me crazy.
As the years went by, I progressed, and found peace. I was no longer the student whose main goal in life was to revamp the Black Panther Party. I no longer wanted to follow Marcus Garvey’s mission and move back to Africa, taking all Black people with me. My relationship with Christ softened my heart. While I believed racism was AND is strong, and evident, I also fully believed my life is in God’s hands. I didn’t believe I’d be denied for a job, because I was Black and my name was Tanikia. I believed I’d be denied for the job, simply because God didn’t want me to have it. And while I overly and thoroughly enjoyed my time in Zambia, I no longer wanted to move to an African country. I began to find my identity in Christ, and being a proud African American. Although it still saddened me that I didn’t know what African country my roots were from, I stood proud on the shoulders of African Americans who fought for my rights here in America.
But the month of November has shaken my faith, again. First Mike Brown’s murderer, Darren Wilson, wasn’t indicted. And now today, Eric Garner, whose death was caught on camera won’t receive justice as well. Even though Garner died from a chokehold, performed by Officer Pantaleo, which is banned in the state of New York. However, the jury failed to indict him, because? Because, once again the lives of our Black men don’t matter.
Have you seen the video of Eric Garner? The first time I watched it, I bursted out in tears. I made the mistake of watching it again today, and had the same reaction. That was cold blooded murder, yet, no justice. People are able to argue the Mike Brown situation, because 1. There were no cameras around. & 2. Unfortunately we’ll never know Mike Brown’s version of what happened, because his life and voice was stolen. But when you watch the video of Eric Garner who clearly doesn’t have a weapon, and was apprehended, there is NO argument. NONE. Eric Garner should be alive today. Period.
Can I be honest? I’m struggling. I’m a follower of Christ, I love Jesus, and will preach the gospel to whoever listens. But I’m hurting and confused at this moment in time. The justice systems continue to fail my people. Black and Whites continue to be divided over what’s justice.
It’s even more hurtful to see my White Christian brothers sit back and be silent about what’s killing their Black brothers and sisters, yet jump at every chance they get to go on a mission trip to Africa.
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:26
This is the scripture I keep telling myself. As Christians, we’re expected not to be angry, but I am. To be honest, I’m more hurt and confused, than I am angry. In an effort for things to make sense in my head, I’m concluding with the following:
We live in a fallen and broken world. We shouldn’t automatically assume righteousness and justice will be granted from the hearts of men. They are fallen and broken as well. Sin is alive and rampant, and satan is the prince of this world (John 12:31). But even in the midst of this, vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19). We may NEVER know how the Lord will choose to repay, but we must trust Him. We must also pray for those in authority (1Timothy 2:2), and encourage Godly men and women to apply for leadership positions, especially African Americans.
Meanwhile, my faith is no longer in this corrupt world. Like the old folks used to say, “this ain’t my home, I’m just passing through”. THANK GOD.
R.I.P. Eric Garner
“Unashamedly Black, unapologetically Christian.”