When God Says No

   Photo by  Jason Betz  on  Unsplash
Photo by Jason Betz  on Unsplash

I’m a writer. I freelance and I’m working on a book series. So, I hear the word no a lot. Like, a lot. I even have a folder in my email full of nos from book agents, job opportunities and pitches to editors. It seems cryptic doesn’t it? Who wants to relive their failures over and over again? I don’t. But it does fuel me. It’s a reminder of where I’ve come from and where I’m headed. 

Last week marked three months of unemployment. It doesn’t even feel like it’s been that long. I didn’t realize it until a coworker posted about it on Facebook. Then this sinking feeling set in. Like, damn. Here I am, again

If nothing else, the last two years have tested my faith and brought me closer to God in ways that would not have happened otherwise. When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, like no one understands what you’re going through or even cares, God does. He’s always there, He’s always listening. 

This time around when I’ve been at my worst, I’ve cried out to Him. “Lord, what are you doing?” or “What am I supposed to learn from this?” or my favorite as of late “What is your plan? Show me your plan, order my steps.” 

Over the last three months there have been some opportunities that felt perfect. Ones that I knew I was going to get, but then I didn’t get them. As I write this, I have about 20 days to figure it out. Twenty days until my lease is up and I have to move back home. 

Last week, I read a three-day devotional titled When God Says No. It was just what I needed. Growing up in church, I was always taught that God doesn’t say no. He either says yes, or, I have something better. That brought me comfort. It still does. Every time I get a no, I believe it’s because God has something better planned. And if an opportunity that seems so perfect wasn’t right for me, that means He’s really got something amazing up His sleeve. He even says so in Ephesians 3:20:

“God has more in store for you than you can even imagine.”

And He does have something amazing planned. For me, for my family, even for you reader. Even if you don’t believe in Him or haven’t opened your Bible in weeks, months, years, He is still working on your behalf. What’s amazing about God is that He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t hold our failures against us. He continues to work on our behalf. 

Growing up, when my dad told me to do something I didn’t want to I’d ask why. His response would almost always be “it builds character.” I don’t even think I knew what he meant at the time, but I knew it was a battle I couldn’t win. So, I’d complete whatever task was asked of me and move on. 

Over the last few months I’ve asked my heavenly Father why I have to go down this path. Why whatever He’s trying to teach me had to happen this way. As I read day one of the aforementioned devotion, I got an answer: 

   Romans 3:3-5, Amplified Bible
Romans 3:3-5, Amplified Bible

There’s that word again. Character. 

In my short 24 years of life, every no, every denial that felt like the end has always really just been the beginning of something great. It’s hard to see when the sky is so dark and the fog so thick that you can barely see to take the next step. But that’s what faith is. 

I’m writing this knowing that I have no idea what happens next. I don’t know what God has in store for me. But I know it’s great. This waiting, this heartache, is preparing me for something better. 

I want to close with a short story. On Saturday, as I wrapped up my workout a song from my god-fathers wedding playlist came on shuffle. It immediately brought me to tears. The song has a message of encouragement, of holding on and pressing forward even when you want to give up. It says that there is a master plan in motion being set by our creator. And what He has for you friend, is really going to blow your mind. 

So, if your find yourself in a slow season. A time of depression, unhappiness or failure. It’s okay. Know that you’re not alone. Know that you are valid in how you feel. But please, keep going. I promise you, the best is yet to come. 

-BK


There is power in prayer. If you’d like me, or anyone who may be reading this to pray for you, leave a note in the comments and we will lift you up in prayer. If you don’t want it to be public, you can email me, or DM me on Twitter. You’ve got this!

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White Silence is Violence?

   Photo by  Alexa Mazzarello  on  Unsplash
Photo by Alexa Mazzarello  on Unsplash

I really didn’t want this to be a blog post. 

I wanted to go on a rant on my Instagram and be done with it. But as I started recording the tenth video, I realized that I was clearly feeling some type of way and maybe I wasn’t alone in it. 

The first time I heard “White silence is violence” was at a protest after Michael Brown had been shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson. I became obsessed with the phrase. Finally, I had four words to describe why I got so angry when my white friends were tweeting about the Kardashians while my black ass was crying over another instance of police brutality. I had a reason, an excuse to want to go off on Becky who seemed to care more about Taylor Swift’s new album than racism. 

Then, I spent more time with white folks. Not racists, or conservative republicans. Just plain, well meaning white folks. Woke white folks. The ones who have friend groups that look like my high school’s Model U.N. club, white folks who checked their privilege, so I didn’t have to.

That’s when I started to think that maybe the phrase was too much. Too harsh, unfair, mean spirited. I kept hanging out with white folks and I realized their willingness to tweet #BlackLivesMatter or proclaim they have privilege in the circles that we both inhabited was pretty much where their activism ended. 

I realized, these white folks were the same ones who will tell you they have Trump supporters in their family and then say that they refuse to talk to them. They were the type of people who asked me about “black stuff” at work because they assumed that’s all I was interested in, not because they were cultured. They’re the coworkers who love your idea for a story that finally features some diversity, but don’t back you up when pitching to the boss. 

White silence is convenient. It’s privilege. It’s comfortable. 

Now, the phrase confuses me. Especially in the wake of the DACA decision.

I’ve seen a lot of my woke white peers posting the phrase across social platforms. I’m inclined to agree with them, but in this case I wonder what do you want them to say (which is also how I felt with Charlottesville)? 

I’m not convinced there is anything well meaning white folks could say in 140 characters or 1,000 words that would make the 800,000 people affected by DACA feel any better.

This administration is showing yet again that people of color, immigrants do not matter. This is 100 percent about race and taking away power. It is about making people feel inferior because of a decision their parents made in order to give them a better life. 

I don’t think a white person’s comments of *shock* or their thoughts and prayers are going to add anything positive to the conversations being had right now. In instances of racism and brutality, I don’t need white folks to post online or say things for my benefit, I need them to check their not so well meaning peers when I’m not around. 

Calling out white folks who refuse to tweet about DACA, Kaepernick’s protest or another black life lost to police brutality feels like a waste of energy at this point. If the election, Charlottesville or any discriminatory act that Trump has passed hasn’t woken them up, nothing will. 

At this point, action is everything. Keep your words, do the work. 

-BK


What do you think? Should white folks be the first to speak out in situations of injustice? Why or why not? Tweet me your thoughts or leave a comment below. 

Black Women Are Beautiful

  Clarke Sanders via Unsplash
Clarke Sanders via Unsplash

Originally published March 19, 2014.

Growing up, I was a beauty pageant brat. I knew I was beautiful because the judges and trophies I won told me I was. A lot of people are quick to judge and ask parents how they could put their child through long days like that, but I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I think it’s where I got my competitive spirit from. I wanted to win, I needed to win. So, during my childhood I never even questioned if my skin color was beautiful, or if it meant that I was worthy of winning a beauty pageant or becoming famous or anything like that. My skin color was not a problem.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I started to question whether or not I really was beautiful, whether black women in general were beautiful. In fact, I didn’t just wonder if I was beautiful enough for society’s standards, I wondered if I was strong enough, and smart enough to rise above the majority in anything I did.

Being black seemed toxic.

When I’d apply for jobs and go in for the interview, managers would try to hold back the shocked looks on their faces. As if a black woman couldn’t be named Brittany and have a phone conversation without “sounding black,” insinuating that my qualifications were no longer valid because of my skin color. I hate it. I’m followed around in stores, ignored by classmates, and overlooked by guys saying, “I’m not really into your kind,” as if we’re all the same (spoiler alert: we’re not).

It’s funny because with all of that mistreatment, people from outside the black community still question why we need programs like Black Girls Rock, why Lupita Nyong’o winning an Oscar in 2013 was such a big deal for black women from all over the world. It’s because we aren’t supported. We can’t get upset or loud without being called ghetto, we can’t simply work hard to earn our 4.0, we must have cheated. Because even when one of us gives the performance of our life in a movie that brought in over $140 million, twitter still explodes with tweets about how Jennifer Lawrence should have won and the editors at People magazine give Matthew McConaughey the post Oscars cover and Nyong’o a tiny sidebar.

According to the Pew Research Center, black women are enrolling in college at a higher rate than any other race or gender, oh and this might come as a surprise, we’re graduating. We’re becoming doctors and lawyers and journalists and actresses and we still aren’t seeing the respect we deserve. We’re typecast as the girl that sleeps around, the girl that has a baby out of wedlock and can’t pay the rent as if we’re the only ones. As if black women in those situations can’t bounce back and turn it around. I’m sick of it.

My skin color is not a problem that needs to be corrected with lightening creams; it’s not something that fits into one of the three shades offered in the makeup aisle for dark skin. My hair is not something that needs to be tamed by a hot comb or covered by a wig. I don’t “speak well for a black girl,” and I’m not “cute for a black girl,” either.

We are strong, beautiful, smart women and I don’t say that to say that other women aren’t, I say it because we need to hear it, we deserve to hear it.

-BK


Got a black woman in your life who needs to hear this right now? Share it with her! The post originally appeared on Thought Catalog.

What You Can Do in the Wake of Charlottesville

The other day I was talking to an old friend from high school when he said something that struck me.

“I don’t want to be angry about this for a few weeks and then it all blow over after a few months.”

We were talking about Charlottesville and sharing a moment of frustration and disappointment in our country. At first, I was a bit offended by his comment. I thought, how could you only be angry about this for a few days or weeks. Personally, I feel like I am always angry about the treatment of marginalized people in America. 

But here I am, roughly two weeks post Charlottesville and well, I’m not as angry anymore. I’ve gotten complacent, I slipped back into being less informed on the aftermath and more informed on what the Kardashian clan is doing (plz don’t judge me). 

So, I’ve spent the last few days thinking about what I can do, what we can do together and I think it starts with two things: education and communication. 

The internet is a fantastic place to start both of these things. Hashtags like #FergusonSyllabus and #CharlottesvilleCurriculum are great places to begin. But conversations can only go so far in 140 characters. So, I’ve compiled a list of books I’ve read, am reading or plan to read on race and social justice. Pick your favorites, encourage your friends to read them, have discussions around the texts, journal your thoughts. Post thought provoking quotes on social media. Whatever it takes. We have to keep the conversation going. 

Start below. 

1. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Jeff Hobbs

2. You Can’t Touch My Hair, Phoebe Robinson

3. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates 

4.  The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

5. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

This list is only the beginning and far from complete, but if you’re unsure where to start. Just start here. 

-BK


Have you read any of these books? Are there any I missed? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. Don’t forget to tweet me your thoughts and follow me on Instagram

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