Last week I had the pleasure of sponsoring a “take care of you” event for the LIPSTICK (Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner City killings): Women who have lost love ones to violence. My hope was that they might pause for a moment to pamper themselves. I wanted them to remember as they continue to build their organization, what my mentor Marc always says which is “letting go is not giving up”.
“Letting go is surrendering any obsessive attachment to particular outcomes and situations. Surrender means showing up every day for your life with the intention to be your best self, and to do the best you know how, without expecting life to go a certain way. Have goals, have dreams, aspire, take purposeful action and build great relationships, but detach from what you think life must look like. The energy of someone aspiring to create something wonderful, teamed with this kind of surrender, is far more powerful and rewarding than someone determined to create outcomes with a desperate ‘must have’ mentality. Surrender brings inner peace and joy, and lest we forget that our outer lives are a reflection of our inner state of being.”
I brought my camera and even though they had an amazing photographer on deck with whom I didn’t want to interfere… I couldn’t help myself when they started to write the name and tell the stories of their love ones taken away by violence on a memory wall. The emotion moved me and I wanted others to feel the mixture of pain and love that was so evident in these women honoring their lost souls…so I took a few shots and I will share them with you here now.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and understand that while Ferguson and New York are the focus of today, we must not forget the pain and love of our neighbors who have also lost their hearts to violence.
I’ve been thinking about community change over the last week and have come to the conclusion that we spend too much time rallying around death, when we should be celebrating victories. Our common response is “more police”, “more police of color”, “the Mayor needs to do more”, “lets march” and.. “we need more resources for our youth”.
The reality is, within the two and one half mile stretch of Boston where more than seventy percent of the city’s crime occurs – there’re several hundred non-profits that serve that area. Additionally, the area has a multitude of resources and, in my opinion, a serious commitment from law enforcement.
I believe what we need more of- what we are missing is in fact individual and organizational COURAGE. Fear, along with our inability to accept collective community responsibility to force change among ourselves is the obstacle to us ensuring authentic grassroots leadership is not only valued…but holding key positions. We must find the courage to have open and real conversations about our community of color’s current leadership and their stranglehold on power whether that power be perceived or real.
As long as we fear our youth and continue to follow philosophy developed on sand we will always stand sideways and nothing will change in our community. As an example, now we have been hearing about a new initiative “Black and Brown Boys” of which the key leader and representative is not a person of color. Don’t get me wrong- he may be the best person for the job but the community of leaders are not asking the question. Instead, they are whispering their discontent and concern among themselves, resulting in a lot of discussion and no genuine commitment to personal and organization action.
This week we shall rally several hundred men of color to march and take back the streets. Give me a break, we already rallied one million and very little has changed. We need to rally men of color to come out and surround our young women as they double dutch on the sidewalk. We need 200 men of color to come out to next week’s coed flag football championship (last year they had five men show up) at the L. Frederic Middle School so that everywhere they look, they see one of us. We need 500 men of color that will come into the community leading with their hearts first, leaving the fear at home. We need men willing to hug their sons/daughters and tell them how much they love them every day.
We need ministers willing to let the past hurt and egos go and not be deterred by the verbiage of others when they say they will abstain from disrespecting each other publicly. We need clergy to work with non-profit, grass roots and individual leaders TOGETHER in order to develop young “Change Agents” for our next generation of leadership. We need politicians who are genuinely willing to support powerful community based young men’s success programs by offering simple things like space rather than being territorial and punitive.
So what am I saying; we need to do a better job dealing with our guilt, ego, trust and hurting souls. We need to open our hearts to each other. We need to do a better job of getting out of the way of our growing youth. We need to act on the dreams and vision of our youth by standing with an erect spine, strong legs, clear eyes and opens hands. More so, we need to believe in US as a people. Fear has determined how our community makes decisions for far to long. Today, I ask you to meet that neighbor you have never spoken too. To call that friend you have chosen not to speak to in the last year. To demand a HUG- not a handshake.
Let’s show our community we love and believe in each other…that we have each other’s back and we will not allow fear to dominate our voice, vision and expectations for excellence.