Here’s the Truth

I still remember when I made the prayer no one heard besides God and the Devil. I was in my room, with a tormented mind, wounded heart, and unsure of everything in this world. With clammy hands, a racing heart, and frustrated spirit, I kneeled. Through hot, stinging tears, and choking sobs that wedged themselves in my throat, the chortled cry poured out of my lips.

“God! Why did you make me black?” 

Yes. Those were the words that formed on a tongue that was near swelling if I continued to cry. 

“God, why did you curse me with black skin? Why didn’t you make me white?! Why?”

I think back on those words now. How they poured out of my soul as a young teen riddled with anger, severe depression, and anxiety. A teen who struggled to find value in living. A teen who couldn’t understand why, on top of being fatherless, never having stability in a home, always having to change friends, and feeling like the degenerate of the heavens, why, oh why, did God also have to make my life even harder by choosing to give me black skin.

Skin rich like the foundations of this earth. Skin smooth, and glowing, kissed by the sun and bearing of it’s likeness. Skin some say is the golden elixir of the heavens. 

And skin others fear as the cloak of a criminal deserving of death.

I was raised in predominantly white neighborhoods all of my life. Was surrounded by white friends. Had white teachers. And formulated a worldview as the one black girl out of few in a sea of blonde hair, blue and green eyes, and luxury I knew not to be dumb enough to dream for.

Those words poured out of my lips like an angry tidal wave over a decade ago. And yet, somehow, once again, with the exposed injustice, brutality, and pure evil coming to light in recent days and weeks, I find myself back in my room, in our small two-bedroom apartment, on my knees, again, asking God, “Why, oh why, did you make me black?”

At the writing of this piece, it is June of 2020. I write this letter after the uprising and raucous cry of a nation vexed to the depths of their soul. With pain so deep they feel it in their bones. I write this on the heels of the most gruesome atrocity, act of violence, and most traumatizing experience a person has to endure.

Watching, as a man, a black man, lays on the hot cement, face first, with his arms cuffed behind his back, and the knee of a white officer, casually, yet forcefully, pressed upon his neck. And for eight minutes and forty six agonizing seconds, millions through video shared on social media, watched as not only he lost air, and lost his will to fight to live, but they watched as he accepted the truth of his soon coming death, until his body became lifeless. 

God’s beautiful creation. The vessel he formed in his mother’s womb. The soul he brought into this world, and bent over to breathe life into his lungs. Another one of his children, in a horrific, savage, barbaric act of hatred, cruelty, and vile evil, lost the most precious gift of all: His life.

I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I am speaking about Mr. George Floyd. A father. A son. A brother. A friend. A role model.

And on May 25th, 2020 he became one more thing: Dead.

I struggle to pen this as I am overwhelmed with the emotions all over again. 

He died. 

He is dead.

He will never. breathe. again. 

Dead.

All in one brutal act of injustice, evil and pure hatred.

And on May 25th, 2020, something within me broke. Something raw, and unfettered. Something, deep, primal, guttural and unwieldy, within my very soul, snapped in two. I broke from within. I sobbed so hard my shoulders quaked. I struggled to breathe. My hands trembled violently, and once again that same prayer from so long ago bubbled up in the back of my throat.

“GOD, WHY?!” 

With my hands pressed over my face, and tears streaming down my cheeks, I wept, and wept, and wept. 

In the lifeless face, and motionless body of Mr. George Floyd, I saw my uncles. I saw my cousins. I saw my friends who are husbands, and fathers. I saw my significant other. I saw pastors, and missionaries, and evangelists. CEO’s, founders, and world leaders. Doctors and teachers. Artists and musicians. Nurses and community activists. I saw all those who had no choice in choosing the skin they bare, yet suffer the consequences of doing so.

And my soul, not my voice, not any humane sound that can be distinguished, but my very soul wept to the God of the heavens and the earth. I wept in bitterness. I wept in anger. And as sorrow burrowed it’s way deep into my gut, my anger sharpened into hot blooded rage.

Where was the fairness in being slaughtered for having skin I, we, all of us, did not choose? Where was humanity when dealing with another life by those who’ve sworn to protect them? Where was morality? Where was righteousness? Where was liberty? Where was duty? Where was goodness, mercy, and justice?

My rage grew and grew. And then, quick as a burned out candle, it blew out.

My body felt sapped. Drained. Wiped out of all energy. I made cries into the wind on Instagram and Facebook. I posted Mr. George Floyd’s face. Shared the cries of other brothers and sisters of color who had had enough. Shared about #blacklivesmatter and #sayher/hisname. I tried to do my part. I tried to be a voice even with the small fear that I would be rejected for making others uncomfortable. Those who would have me shut my mouth and be silent. 

But this time, I didn’t care. The chasm of agony within me demanded I cry out until my tears stopped flowing, and my fist grew tired of waving in the air. 

I remembered every instance like rushing flashes of a movie dancing on the backs of my eyelids, vivid, and gripping. 

  • Like when I was 9 years old and my teacher embarrassed me for the way I dressed in front of all my peers.
  • Or, when I was 13 years old and I was made to sit in the back of the classroom behind all my white peers beside my black and latino friends.
  • Or while still 13 years old in teacher-parent meetings when my mother extended her hand, my teacher refused to shake it. Refused to touch her. Came up with every excuse not to make any contact. And how in this same teachers classroom, I was treated as if I were nonexistent.
  • Or the stares I received.
  • The jokes that were made.
  • How white friends spoke slang to me so they could “relate to me”.
  • How many times I was told, “You speak so proper.” And whenever I said, “Yo?” or “What’s good?” they tumbled into laughter and jokes. 
  • How the assumption was I listened to rap and R&B. And if I wasn’t “gangsta” I was ridiculed like a fool.
  • How I was pulled over with two officers stepping out of their vehicles. And within moments (no, but, really, moments) two, or four more, arrived on the scene though I had committed no offense.
  • How even in church, because I was believed to be an activist, against the 45th President of the United States of America, and an advocate of #blacklivesmatter, I was cornered on the platform, rebuked, questioned, and reprimanded, in front of the entire church. 

For the record, the assumptions were false. I hadn’t done or represented any such thing at the time. It all occurred over a misunderstood post I made on Instagram.

Experience after experience flooded my memory. And when I couldn’t take it anymore, the memories stopped, and my body felt deflated. I became exhausted.

Like every other black person in the United States of America, I became exhausted. Sick and tired, of being sick and tired. Tired of being afraid. Tired of the panic at the flash of red and blue lights. Tired of watching executions on Television as though it’s just another sitcom episode. 

I grew weary, and was about to shut down like I’ve done in the past. But then, something different happened. 

After the tears, the hot anger, reading awful posts that relished in the death of Mr. George Floyd and and the worst the internet unveiled – something different blossomed.

Change, a revolution, began. 

White friends flooded my DM’s and my phone. One after the other, they checked in on me. They shared the agony they wrestled with at the horror and the injustice. They, too, cried. They, too, felt some semblance of pain. They, too, couldn’t wrap their minds around the truth of the black reality was/is. They, too, were ready for change.

And this time they, too, were angry. 

I watched, I’ll admit in disbelief, as white men and women. Pastors and church leaders. Influences and organizers. Artists and creatives. Young and old opened their mouth and said a loud, resounding, “NO. This is wrong!”

I watched their IG Stories as they sat in their living rooms, tears wetting their cheeks as they said, “Black lives matter”. I sat stunned as they went Live with black experts and friends to speak about racism, injustice, prejudice, inequality, and how to change. How to create real, long lasting progress.

Hope blossomed in my chest as one after another, they posted on all of their social platforms their sorrow, their anger at injustice, and their solidarity with the black community. Emails flooded my inbox as white friends I subscribed to shared ways to donate and support foundations fighting the war against racism and police brutality. How they amplified the voices of black brothers and sisters and the disenfranchised.

For once, it wasn’t just the voices of the African American crying out against an ocean of darkness. This time, with arms linked, shoulders wide, and chins held high, black, brown, tan, white stood side by side in crying out against a system that isn’t brokenbut rather made as is to oppress and destroy. As they raged, together, for justice and freedom and equality for all.

My friends of privilege acknowledged the truth of it, and made the uncomfortable decision to face it. To challenge it. To change it.

And that’s when I knew, this time would be different. And maybe, just maybe, this nation would really become “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I prayed again. To the ears of God Almighty and to throw my triumph in the face of Satan.

I got on my knees and sought the face of Jesus. And as I lifted my prayers and petitions, I laid aside my lament, and instead lifted my song of gratitude, and hope. A song that formed deep inside of my heart knowing that me, my family, my friends, and my loved ones, were no longer fighting this fight alone.

That the love of Christ would/will prevail. That the hope of Jesus would spread through the earth. That, as one people, the love of God that he so freely gives and pours on humanity would shine through. Would overcome. And would become the legacy of this generation.

We would have grace for one another. Mercy and forgiveness would be given in generous amounts. Kindness would precede our ways and underline our decisions.

That we would dare to be unified in love for one another. That we would dare to look darkness in the eye and fight back with the love of Jesus, and pure love for our neighbor as we love ourselves. That we would triumph over wickedness with goodness. Stomp evil into the ground with love. That we would pray together, rejoice together, sing together, and step into an era of greater good and mercy, together.

I wrote this piece today at the behest of a few, sweet friends asking me, “What should I do?”

My initial response was to refer them to documentaries that wonderfully depict the black struggle in America and how to combat racial narratives within themselves and their daily lives so that the world can change.

But after praying and finding my strength once again in the Lord. After refreshing from his well and renewal in my heart, I realize my error.

The first step isn’t watching a documentary. Or movies about black struggles. Or just listening to black and brown people about their experiences. Those are valid. They’re right. And they’re needed. 

But as the bible admonishes, the first step, is to repent.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

There is ONE person who can rid this earth of it’s evil, and his name is Jesus.

He was abundantly clear in what must be done. And the first step is repentance.

I know I repented. I needed to. In Matthew 7:5, Jesus said to “take the plank out of your own before trying to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” So, I got on my knees, and began to do just that.

I repented for my anger. For any time it went unchecked. Anger isn’t wrong. But the bible says to, “…be angry and sin not…” in Ephesians 4:26. I repented for any offense I may have caused anyone. And if I were ever a perpetrator of racism. Or held prejudice and bitterness in my heart. I repented for my own actions. My own sin. My own wickedness. Because I wanted God to check me before I had the audacity to check others.

Repentance isn’t comfortable, but it is cleansing. 

I’m sure your expectation of this article would be for me to share resources and foundations to donate to, to support, and to stand with in these times. To show solidarity. 

And I will. 

But before I give you organizations, foundations, resources, activists, or any other group fostering change and boldly using their voice to make lasting difference in the earth, first, I choose to give you the answer to it all.

I give you Jesus.

If you find yourself confused as to why I would “give you Jesus”. If you think I’m being political (I’m not). If you think I’m trying to use my story to swindle you (I’m not). If you think this is some kind of ploy or trick (It’s not). Understand, throughout all of this, my faith has been shaken in all things except this, knowing that Jesus Christ is the answer for the world’s sorrows today. Here’s why:

Jesus is love. 

1 John 4: 7-12 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

Jesus brings liberty. 

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,…”

Jesus gives us hope. 

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus will wipe our tears and take away our sorrow. 

Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

And lastly, Jesus loves us to a degree no man can. Not even ourselves.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Before I give you anything man made, or man fashioned, I give you Jesus.

For your anger, your rage, and your sorrow, I give you Jesus. 

For the turmoil in your soul and the vexing of your spirit, I give you Jesus. 

For the hopelessness you feel, I give you Jesus. 

For the fear you face for your husbands, and sons, and daughters, I give you Jesus. 

For the confusion you’re unsure of how to handle, I give you Jesus. 

For your pain, I give you Jesus. 

For your long-lasting suffering, I give you Jesus. 

For the nightmares you’ve endured, I give you Jesus. 

For the discomfort you’ll face because you choose to stand for change, I give you Jesus.

For a broken society, a broken world, a broken people, I give you Jesus.

He is the answer. Him alone. The all knowing, all powerful, ever present God who wishes to change the tides humanity has thrust itself into and is now drowning in. I give you Jesus. His power, his ability, his name.

When you ask, “What do I do? How do I foster change? What can I say? How can I change?”

For your woes, your questions, and your uncertain tomorrows, I give you Jesus.

If you’ve read this far, I pray you’ve felt my heartbeat. I pray you leave with greater understanding. I pray you have action items on how to move forward.

On May 25th, 2020, Mr. George Floyd went to sleep for eternity. But in his death, a nation is waking up. A new world is waking up. And this time, their eyes won’t flutter back shut. They will wake up. They will rise up. And they won’t stop demanding change, justice, equality, a brighter and better tomorrow for all,  until it has been given.

Evil cannot win when love refuses to quit. 

Love is marching. Love is peaceful protesting. Love is research. Love is uncomfortable conversations. Love is listening to someone different than yourself. Love is change in every way we can achieve it. Love is hope. Love is power. 

Love is Jesus.

And love will change our nation. Change our human race. And change our world.

If you’re ready to get your hands dirty and do the work for true, legitimate change to take place, let’s dig into some resources.

 

Foundations + Organizations

And CampaignBiblical values, social justice.

Grassroots Law ProjectGrassroots organizing meets legal expertise.

Black Visions CollectiveCreating the space for long-term success and transformation

Reclaim the BlockMoving money from the police department to the city budget for community health and safety

The Bail ProjectCombatting mass incarcerations with the National Bail Fund

CUAPBCommunities United Against Police Brutality

Unicorn RiotArtists and journalists exposing the root causes of social and environmental issues

Campaign ZeroPolice accountability campaigns, research for effective solutions, and technical assistance for ending police brutality nationwide.

FairfightAdvocating for free and fair elections.

Know Your Rights CampFounded by Colin Kaepernick for advancing black communities through education, mass-mobilization, and systems to elevate the next generation.

Documentaries

13th 

When They See Us 

I Am Not Your Negro

Time: The Kalief Browder Story

Teach Us All

Strong Island

Movies 

12 Years A Slave

Selma

Just Mercy

Harriet

Amistad

Hidden Figures

The Birth of A Nation

Books

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

White Fragility by Robn J. DiAngelo

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

Social Platforms

NAACP: @naacp

Sprinkle of Kindness: @_sprinkleofkindness_

Danielle Coke: @ohhappydani

Rachel Elizabeth Cargle: @rachel.cargle

Color of Change: @colorofchange

Connect On Social Media:

Hey friend, thank you for taking the time to read this article. Have any thoughts? Want to discuss this topic further? Want to have a conversation?

Be sure to make your posts on Instagram and tag me @stephaniebwabwa, and I’ll be more than happy to have a valuable conversation. Let’s bring change, together, for good. xo

Stephanie BwaBwa is a Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur, YA Fantasy Author, and Founder. She’s always working on: StephanieBwaBwa.com, her Writing Consulting Firm, The Bwabs Refinery, her Web Design company, or Indie Author Lifestyle, where she serves indie authors with her partner, Angela J. Ford. Stephanie is a Christian, Disney fanatic, and lover of monkeys, and coffee. You can usually catch her going for a walk through a park with her Bubba, or simply binging Disney+ with a cup of Peppermint Mocha in hand.

Get in contact with Stephanie directly at: stephanie@stephaniebwabwa.com.