Witnessing America’s History

Kristi Love |2018

Sharing…old thoughts that remain today. Written in 2018…published during 2020 Quarantine.

When “Advanced” technology exposes America’s truth.

When blogs, social media posts and podcasts take the place of history books.

We no longer have an excuse about not knowing what is happening in America…..land of the free, home of the brave.

We no longer have to wonder “what if” I lived during slavery, Jim Crow, or the Civil Rights Era. We are living in all those times right now in 2018. It just looks different.

No longer can we say or believe that “Race doesn’t Matter”.

I (we) can no longer let the days go by and not speak out against the injustices happening in America today.

This is America. Trump really is the POTUS. His wife really wore that jacket, “I really don’t care, do you?”. A young Black teen in Pittsburgh really did get shot in the back by a newly sworn in white police officer…for simply running away.

This is the America (we) I live in.

This is the sad but true part about how some of us feel/think. Children being taken away from their parents…especially their mothers is not a new thing. It is just being done in a different manner and exposed for the world to see. African babies were taken from their slave mothers and fathers for years. Do I need to say more?

We can write about this all day. The question is what are we doing about this? What can we do as individuals, families and communities to stop this. Change this. Prevent this.

Who do we call? Who do we write? Do we need to protest somewhere?

The love of humanity is needed more and more each day. After we pray to God, we move. After we praise him, we paved the way through our actions.

No weapons formed against God’s people shall prosper.

This is a heart condition. This is a love condition.

God has equipped us all to do His work here on earth. Are we using our gifts to fight for our children, families, and communities. 

This. Is. America.

I stand with Kaepernick

Kristi Love | February 2018

During Quarantine 2020, I’m sharing a few blogs that I just didn’t publish. What a better time than now. This will help me come back to one of my passions- writing and blogging…sharing my opinion.

I have a confession- I watched a few football games during this (2018) NFL season; including the Super Bowl (Congrats to the Philadelphia Eagles- who won for the first time since their franchise began). I was on board with the Southern Black Preachers, actors, and countless others who asked America to boycott the NFL by not watching football in support of Colin Kaepernick and I commend those who decided to boycott the NFL the entire season.

Colin, in his personal subtle way, took a stance on something and his action did what it was meant to do. It started a well-needed conversation.

“I’m not saying I’m going to rule the world, or I’m going to change the world. But I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world. That’s our job, is to spark somebody else watching us.” – Colin Kaepernick

We all have the right to protest. We all have the right to challenge and question injustices when we see it happening in our families, communities, states, country, and the world. That’s what America is about. Our First Amendment right allows me to NOT salute the American flag because that is our freedom. Colin Kaepernick will go down in history with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith & John Carlos, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson and others who used their platform to fight for justice.

Over the past months, my respect for Colin Kaepernick has increased as I watched him put in the work to be the change he wanted to see. He is a true example of an individual using their actions to make a statement for the good of the people. His actions spoke louder than his words.

In case you did not know, Colin has been “woke” for several years. He did not all of a sudden decide well into his football career to make a statement that ultimately cost him his NFL career. He has been on a journey to find who he was in college but really throughout his years growing up as a child. I commend his parents (Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, who adopted him when he was a few weeks old) for being open, honest, and supportive of him during his life’s journey. His biological mother, Heidi Russo was 19 years at the time and his father left as soon as he learned Russo was pregnant. Who knows what the trajectory of his life would be if Heidi decided to raise him on her own. Without of the support of his parents, he may have never realized his full potential and calling.

The adoption alone changed the course of his life. His parents never hid the fact that he was adopted and early on he noticed the stares and inappropriate comments his classmates would say to him. Colin went on to prosper academically and athletically in high school (where he played Baseball and Football). Through high school and college (University of Nevada, Reno) he sought the knowledge of self.

Fast forward some years, Kaepernick signed with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and eventually led the team to the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. From there he would go from starting quarterback to not starting and the cycle continued.  At the start of the 2016 season, he took a stand. Out of the blue (some may have thought), Colin Kaepernick first sat on the bench during the playing of the national anthem. Once media caught on and then he started to kneel, WHITE AMERICA was outraged. What I heard when folks were upset were these types of statements, “How dare this Black man take a knee while our anthem is playing.” “How could an NFL player decide to peacefully protest while he entertains us on Sunday?” “Play football, nobody wants to hear about your political views.” White Americans were not the only ones disappointed in his decision to use his platform to send a political message. Some African Americans were also not pleased and considered his actions a waste of time thinking he didn’t need to speak for African Americans.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” -Colin Kaepernick

He was not protesting to gain popularity; he was protesting to make a bold statement.

“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” -Kaepernick

I find he actions to be respectable, notable, and honorable. He did not only stand for something, he did something about the injustices- he gave to organizations that serve individuals and communities who are underserved and providing social justice education and/or services.

In 2016, this was Colin’s pledge, “I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities. 100k a month for 10 months.”

In the final stretch of his one-million-dollar pledge, he challenged and collaborated with friends. In January 2018, Colin decided he would give his last 100k in a #10for10 challenge by partnering with his friends who he asked to match his donation.

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If we want to make America great (or greater), we have to have the difficult conversations with an action plan in place. Just like our ancestors, we have to stand up and speak out when our civil rights are being violated. We may not live in the Civil Rights error but, we still have civil rights issues that are being violated and must be addressed.  Thank you, Colin Kaepernick for taking a stand by kneeling.

*What are your thoughts about race and individuals taking a stand during the national anthem? Let’s talk about it- comment below.

You can find the list of organizations he donated funds to throughout his campaign on his website at  http://kaepernick7.com/

Also, check out those who joined him during his encore series http://kaepernick7.com/10for10-encore/

Heal Me

Guest writer: Dr. Phillip E. Graham, Doctor of Philosophy I in Counseling Psychology |WGC| Uprising

Mental Health (MH) has been a major buzz word as of late; it’s a term that has been in heavy rotation in the zeitgeist, on the tip of our tongues, burning our ears and on the pulse of this generation. However, as a culture we have become increasingly desensitized to MH issues, at least based on many of the comments on social media in regards to issues surrounding this topic. Black mental health is in a state of crisis and the collective conscious is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  However, the Black community has seemingly been left out of the conversation about MH. Black women have shown an increase in post-partum depression, Black children are being ushered in to special needs classes, which has inadvertently created a direct route to the preschool-to-prison pipeline, and suicide rates have increased significantly just to name a few.

Despite the fact that MH concerns have reached an all-time-high, there are very few celebrities, artist and people talking about it, with the exception of Charlemagne tha God, Taraji P. Henson, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Yussha Assad and Raheem Devaughn have decided to take on the challenge of discussing MH concerns among Black men with his latest track, Heal Me. This song is a breath of fresh air as he speaks to many of problems that are crippling Black men emotionally. Researchers suggest, of all the health concerns faced by Black men, mental health challenges may be among the most stigmatized (Holden, McGregor, Blanks, & Mahaffey, 2012; Watkins & Jefferson,2013). Raheem starts singing over staccato piano composition and Yusha begins to engage in a dialog that takes place between father and son on a conscious and subconscious level.

Yusha recalls stories of fatherhood that I’m sure many of us can relate to, of how often men prefer to swallow their pain without a healthy outlet. In many ways, we are our own worst enemies. As Black men, we have been taught to reject seeking and asking for help, challenge conventional wisdom, and many of us continue to perpetuate antiquated beliefs about masculinity. Far too often we internalize our feelings and project our insecurities on to our children, passing down trauma as a rite of passage. We have been conditioned to not show our vulnerabilities and many of us relish in the display of our most toxic traits to validate our perception of manhood. Yusha addresses all of these facets in his latest track and many of the lyrics of his song resonated with me in very profound ways.

As a psychotherapist, I couldn’t help but recall the litany of sessions with young Black men that have reiterated this troupe. Yusha provides an antidote about the deeply complited relationship we have as men opening up and expressing our needs. While he tells a very detailed story about a narrative that is very common, what I enjoyed most is that he also provided sound and rational interventions to help shift the social consciousness to a state of healing and awareness. He identifies healthy coping mechanisms such as exorcise, yoga, meditation, journaling and talk therapy to sublimate for anxiety, depression, fear, doubt and worries. As men, we all experience these things on some level but we are not often comfortable talking about it. Who are we going to talk to about our problems without sounding weak or needy? When is it acceptable to express our concerns and who can bear the burden of our problems?

I recently read a meme posted by @Cthagod which states: “You are not responsible for the programming you received in childhood. As an adult, you are absolutely responsible for fixing it.” Iyanla Vanzant said that “If trauma can be passed down, then so can healing.” Despite not having the tools to adequately address our issues, perhaps the approach to internal healing can be found in the lyrics of this song. To speak is to release, to release is to no longer internalize which has metaphysical, psychological, and emotional healing properties. There is a spiritual adage that states, “Life and death is in the power of the tongue” Proverbs 18:21. We can speak health, wealth, healing, and prosperity into our lives; unfortunately, the converse is just as true. Nonetheless, words alone cannot change ones’ circumstances. It’s the actions that we put behind our words that make the difference.

If you can take one thing away from this song, other than a dope beat, masterful lyrics and the soothing sound of Raheem Devaughn; remember this, expressing emotions does not compromise your masculinity; it’s okay to ask for help; you’re not alone; and “you can believe in God and see a therapist” (source unknown). If you are in need of help, there are plenty of Black Doctors seeking to support. For additional resources, check out my podcast 6 Degrees of Black Mental Health or visit https://www.abpsi.org/ for a directory of black psychologists near you. I encourage you to read and listen closely to the lyrics of this song by Yusha Assad, it may provide you with the strength to seek the help you need.

Listen now to HEAL ME,  HERE

With Love,

Dr. Phillip E. Graham

Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology