Our people are hurting, our communities are mourning, and our nation is heart-broken over the tragic and unimaginable death of George Floyd and the countless others who have come before him. We have watched our communities respond in protest to share their voice, their pain, and their grief.
This month’s article will focus on sharing some of those voices in the effort to open up a conversation that we all need to have right now. It’s my hope that these voices will help shed light on the subject of inequality, racism, and social injustice so that we can continue to learn from others and be the positive change we want to see in the world.
I reached out to my friend, Arleana Waller, Founder, ShePower Leadership Academy and asked her to share these questions with some of her mentees and mentors of her program. Here’s our conversation:
What is your message to those who are hurting right now?
God is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit–Psalm 34:18. The world is hurting. The world is tired of injustice, broken systems, and racism. The world needs compassionate leaders right now. In all 50 states, and globally, we are protesting for change. I know it hurts right now, it hurts to the point that some of us can’t breathe, but have faith that one day we will be thankful for these moments. The same way we are thankful for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s time of unrest. We’re still not where we need to be, but we are not where we were before. Just know one day, we will be thankful for this moment.
—Arleana Waller, Founder/Visionary/ShEO, ShePower Leadership Academy
To my black men: Your strength is noble and you are illustrious. To my black women: Your courage is celebrated by all who admire your tenacity. To my black youth: Go forward indomitable; your power is in the tone of your skin and fear is your kryptonite.
—Tiara King, ShePower Executive Team
Don’t give up! Keep fighting! You are stronger than you think and you are not alone!
—Heavanna Purdy, ShePower Mentee, 17
The Black Lives Matter movement means that our lives matter just as much as everyone else’s. I’ve never realized how much support we have behind us until this movement came about! I am so proud of everyone who’s participating and doing what they can. We have to keep fighting and pushing until we get what we need and deserve. No peace until justice.
—Jayden Jennings, ShePower Mentee, 16
I am not Black but most of my life has been influenced by urban culture. I am hurting for my friends and family who are going through this time of unfairness and injustice. The world is shifting; there are uncertainties in this world but God is behind the scenes working on your behalf. I stand in the gap by praying for you. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”
Jamie Lynn Cota
— JamieLynn Cota, ShePower Executive Team
I love the example from Luke in the Bible of the 99 and the one lost sheep. It really puts the debate over all lives matter in better perspective. All lives can't matter until Black lives matter. What does the Black Lives Matter movement mean to you?
The Black Lives Matter should never be a hashtag. It’s very confusing to young Black girls and boys why their humanity has to be labeled and their equal rights have to be fought for. What BLM means to me; it should mean to the whole world. Because the Powers that be continue to protect laws and policies that suppress people, people have to fight to demand equality for God’s children. We know all lives matter, but until Black Lives matter, can we really say all lives matter? No! Black Lives Matter to me is a wake-up call to Christians who are silent, do get vocal and visible and don’t make this humanity issue political.
The Black Lives Matter movement means a lot to me. It’s a way for others to hear my voice and understand why we are fighting for our rights. What is going on in this moment has always been pushed back and never had a seat at the table. We deserve every right anyone else has. We all bleed the same so we should be treated the same, no matter what we look like.
This is not a call for reform and radical change, this is an opportunity to embrace the inevitable systemic overhaul of a nation which has thrived on the backs of the hard work of black people. This is not to discount any other life; it is to say that my life matters and I demand the respect, opportunities, and honor of my God-given right to be black.
There are some people who are taking the black lives matter movement and changing the narrative for their own personal gain. This is not ok and is making it difficult for some people, especially our young generation to fully understand the history behind BLM.
All lives matter, and black lives are part of the "ALL,” it’s that simple.
My hope is that we will come out of 2020 with 20/20 vision for a future that is built on compassion, inclusion, mercy, kindness, and love. What can we do right now to stand on the side of love?
The love within you is intelligent and knows how we need to move forward right now. Take the color of my skin, my children and all the Black girls God has entrusted us to lead, and replace it with your face, those you love, your children’s face and deal with the racial epidemic from that perspective.
You can’t hate what you love. See me as you. That’s how we stand on the side of love.
We can all use our platforms to get the message out and talk about it with other people. We need to get our messages out for everyone to see what is really going on and to help us change the way we are treated.
We make ourselves available and help educate on the topic at hand. Continue to communicate and be solution oriented and have conversations with those who have the authority to implement change. People want justice, and the only way that can happen is by leaders making an effort to show up for people and letting them know they are being heard and change is coming.
How is ShePower sharing this message and working with our young people to raise future community leaders?
ShePower has not only been a ray of hope in this difficult time, but we have stood up with those who couldn't stand on their own. We have been the voice for our most vulnerable in this community since the inception of our program. We will continue to teach our leaders how to effectively speak out for justice. We will continue to equip our young leaders with the skills necessary and equip them with the opportunities to guarantee their own liberty. They are the future of this movement, and their hope continues to inspire all of us to dismantle oppression indefinitely.
Mama, I know this is hard. I know that there are very deep wounds that need healing. I know that some of us don’t even know where to begin or how to help. And, I know that change won’t happen overnight. This moment we are in requires more of us…our whole heart, mind, body and soul, to speak up for those who are voiceless, show up for those who need our support and stand up on the side of love. How will you stand on the side of love?
Let’s keep this conversation going. Share on social and tag Kern County Family Magazine and #hellohappymama