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Encourage Yourself

I woke up a few mornings ago and this song was in my spirit. I think I had actually been humming it all weekend and didn’t realize what song it was until today.

The church I grew up in sang it a lot and I vividly remember my mom being really into it whenever it came on. I didn’t fully understand it, not because I was a child or anything, but simply because my faith had never been tested in the way that it is now. I never felt the need to encourage myself because things were never “that bad” for me.

Now that I’m dealing with job loss, being in a long distance relationship and ultimately failure, I know I need to be positive. I know I’ve got to speak victory during a test, but honestly, it’s so difficult.

A few weeks back when I was counting down the hours until I left to go back home for the holidays I told myself I would pray every time I got down on myself and had negative thoughts. I spent a lot of my days praying, but I never quite felt like I was more positive.

What I realized was even though I was trying to be positive when I’d get on social media, or turn on the news, or talk to friends, the conversations were bombarded with negativity. So, I unfollowed all the toxic accounts on social and replaced them with accounts that were positive and posted testimonies and scriptures (@wisdomfeed and @instagodministries are great on Instagram). I prayed when I saw tragic stories on the news and I spoke positivity into loved ones who were being hard on themselves. I even put encouraging messages on my own social channels.

Even though I wasn’t encouraging myself, doing these things made me feel better.

Sometimes it’s not so much about looking yourself in the mirror and saying positive affirmations that you don’t believe, but rather watching what you say that’s negative and watching what you consume that’s negative. Without even realizing, the negativity that I was surrounded by was sucking the life out of me and so staying encouraged felt impossible.

What we have to remember is life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). What we speak, we become. If you call yourself a loser and say that you’ll never get it right, chances are you won’t. But if you speak positively, if you speak like you’ve already got the victory knowing that you’ve gotten through 100% of your hardest days on earth so far, things will start to come together.

So speak over yourself, encourage yourself, in the Lord.

God Bless,

-BK

Photo credit: Wavy1 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Honesty & Growth

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

I have a lot of friends on Facebook who like to share praise reports and I’m thankful for them because they remind me and others of the great things God does for us. But so often I find myself reading these praise reports on my newsfeed and wanting to know more. What did God bring you through? What scripture did you read? Do you have a Spotify playlists of uplifting songs to recommend?

Maybe I’m nosey  I am definitely nosey. But God puts us through tests, so we can share our testimony! Everyone isn’t going to want to share all of their business and I understand that. But I told myself if I was going to make this blog all about me and my life, I was going to do it right. And for me, the only way to do it right is to be honest.

I’m being tested right now. My faith is being tested, my mind, my willingness to succeed. I feel like I’m being attacked in every aspect of my life. It’s like the world is saying “Welcome to adulthood Brittany, not as great as you imagined is it?”

No, it certainly isn’t.

But I think about the past few months and although it’s hard, I am thankful for how close my struggle has brought me to God. Before losing my job I was pretty unhappy. For so long I had dreamed of moving to a city on my own and taking it by storm. I wasn’t worried about making friends or even failing because I just knew I wouldn’t. So to be in the position I am now is hard. I feel like a failure. I heard about stories of job loss, loss of a loved one and other tragedies, and how it brings a person closer to God and I foolishly thought that somehow I would be exempt from that pain, that I’d never experience it simply because of who I am.

But I am nothing without Him. I didn’t wake up this morning without Him, I haven’t been able to make ends meet for the past few months without Him. Everything that I have and everything that I don’t have is because of God. Although I believed in Him when I had my job, when I was in college and even growing up, I did not believe that what I had was because of Him, but rather because of me. I couldn’t see that it was His grace and mercy that allowed me to be so blessed.

I believe it is impossible for us to know what we’ve got until it’s gone. I was in a place that made me unhappy, that I dreaded going to every day, and so I complained and had a nasty attitude. I was not thankful for the fact that I had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a reliable car to drive and a consistent flow of money, so I lost it.

I know God has something better in store for me. His word says so. He has plans to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). But we can’t receive a blessing we aren’t ready for. That our hearts are not ready for.

I’ve always been told that God takes us through hard times, so that we draw near to Him and in the past three months, I have. I’ve spent more time with God than ever before and I’ve watched myself changed. I’m more positive, I start my day off with prayer and devotion, and in the last few weeks I’ve taken the time to pray for people who have hurt me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go, but I thank God for how He has grown me during this tough time. And even though I can’t see it, I know better days are ahead!

Let Him do the same for you, submit to Him, talk to Him. Tell Him what is on your mind. Seek Him and trust that He’s got it all figured out. If you’re not sure where to start Bible.com just launched their new website and it is fantastic! So if you’re a person who want’s to read devotions on your laptop or home computer, you can just go to the website, they’ve got a lot of great devotionals as well as multiple versions of the Bible. So check it out!

God Bless,

-BK

 

 

Under Construction

Under construction. That seems to be the theme of my life right now. I’m in between jobs, not loving the city that I’m in (not even really liking it) and so confused about what God wants me to do.

I’ve been reading my Bible and praying every day searching for an answer, but I feel like I’m not listening hard enough. Or maybe God is giving me an answer and I just don’t like it.

You know, I read all these articles every day about “How to be successful as a 20 something” or “The 3 keys to success by your 30’s” and a lot of other crappy headlines that are crafted by writers like me to get those who have felt that they have lost their way (also like me) to click the link and hopefully share the article.

The truth is, no 500 hundred word article is going to have the exact answers I’m looking for. No amazingly successful 25 year old can tell me what I need to do in order to be successful. All I can really do is pray and trust God. And currently, that answer is truly driving me insane.

I realize I’m all over the place in this post so far, but just bare with me.

It seems like I give this blog some love and then leave it, I give it some more love, and leave it again and so this time around I asked God “What should I be writing, what should this blog be about?” and while I was home for the holidays visiting Light of the Word Christian Church (if you’re in Indy, check them out!) I got my answer.

I have sat through countless sermons where the pastor tells the congregation that we all have gifts that God gives us and I’ve been lucky enough to know that mine is writing for most of my life. I remember being five years old and saying I wanted to be an author and an illustrator. Now I’m not too crazy about writing and drawing children’s book anymore, but I do still want to write. So I listened to all those sermons and I wrote more the second half of 2015. I got published in Elite Daily and more clips from Thought Catalog, I wrote for Barkley’s blog, published my first think piece on LinkedIn and I even started and finished my first novel. What a blessing!

But here I am, a week or so into the new year with some serious writers block. Actually, some serious life block (is that even a thing?). Every thing is up in the air right now and guys, I’m scared, I really am. I’m excited about what God has in store for me, but I’m terrified too because I like to control things and right now, there are just somethings that are really outside of my control.

So I kept praying the same prayer because the word says to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

On the first Sunday of the new year Dr. David Hampton preached about how to grow the church. He said one of our main missions as Christians, is to bring sinners to Christ and I’ve been thinking about how I can do that ever since.

Personally, I do not think I’ve been called to preach, I’m not a fan of crowds, or public speaking and I’m not the best at uplifting people, so the thought of teaching a Sunday School class, or preaching to a congregation isn’t for me. But I am a writer and I do like sharing what I’ve been through in hopes that it will help someone else.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

I have a lot of doubts, I’m not sure what’s particularly exciting about my life. (I feel like you all will soon realize the answer is nothing.) However, if I can use this blog to be really raw and honest about my walk with Christ, I think I’ll be doing something right.

As for my professional life, I’m currently freelancing in Kansas City and it’s a move I made a lot sooner than I wanted to, but it is what it is. All I can say is, pray for me friends. My 20’s so far have been a bit bumpy, but it’s all been worth it and I know that there is nothing I can’t do without Him on my side!

God Bless,

-BK 

Why We Need To Listen To People’s Experiences With Racism Instead Of Brushing It Off

Tuesday night at around 8 pm, I got a call from my best friend about a threat being made to students on the University of Missouri campus, via the popular anonymous social media app, Yik Yak.

For the next four hours, we watched our Twitter timelines as the events unfolded at my alma mater.

This was a place I had just called home a few months ago. But it was also an institution where I had experienced more racism than anywhere else in my life.

It’s so easy for those not affected by the threats last night (or even the killing of black citizens by white cops) to say racism doesn’t exist.

What these people fail to realize is their privilege allows them to feel that way.

It’s white privilege that allows you to ignore the voices of the black students at Mizzou. It’s white privilege that allows you to walk around campus and not fear for your safety. It’s white privilege that excuses you from educating yourself on systemic racism and how it manifests.

In my four years at Mizzou, I have been called the N-word every semester. I’ve been told to go back where I came from.

In one embarrassing moment, I’ve even been stopped at the university bookstore and had my bag completely dumped out because a cashier swore she saw me take something.

I hadn’t taken anything.

These acts are more than just coincidences. They are more than just a few bad apples at our university.

They are examples of a deeper problem, not only at Mizzou, but all across this country.

Racism is so deeply engrained in our history that white students on the Mizzou campus today don’t even recognize it. The very campus they walk on was more than likely built on the backs of blacks in 1839, before slavery was abolished.

Missouri was one of the last states to abolish slavery. Our rivalry with the University of Kansas actually stems from the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas Nebraska Act, where Kansas was declared a free state and Missouri was declared a slave state.

Last night, as I scrolled through Twitter and Yik Yak, I saw so many of my white peers and alumni claim getting called a racial slur was no big deal.

They said former UM System President Tim Wolfe’s lack of reaction to racist incidents on campus was not enough reason for him to lose his job.

But they just don’t get it.

What Concerned Student 1950 is fighting for is bigger than one man’s removal from office. It’s bigger than the football team boycotting practice and a game that could have cost Mizzou a million dollars.

It’s even bigger than Hunter Park, who is the student believed to have posted the threats to Yik Yak last night.

Systemic racism is the issue here.

It is why Mizzou put out a tweet saying there was no real threat to campus, even though hundreds of students had seen and heard threats on campus in the time it took the university to craft the misinformed tweet.

It’s why it took four hours for the police to release Park’s name out of fear for his life, as if black lives aren’t under attack every day on campus.

It’s why the University of Missouri can get away with having only 3 percent of its faculty be black, when the black student population is more than double that.

Systemic racism isn’t understood by the majority because it doesn’t affect them.

Unless a person of color decides to give information about the systemic racism he or she has experienced, it doesn’t exist to whites.

White students would rather focus on everything wrong with the protests that have happened on campus during the last 18 months than admit their beloved university has a problem.

It does, as do many universities across the country.

Marginalized groups on campus need their voices heard.

They must be heard.

Last night was not the first time threats have been made to the Black Culture Center on campus, or to black people on campus.

Administrators need to listen to students, create action plans for situations like these and stop brushing them off as isolated incidents. Dylan Roof and other white supremacists have shown us what happens when people ignore online threats.

My fear is if white students, administrators and faculty don’t listen now, they’ll regret it one day.

3 Ways Twitter Isn’t Dying, But Evolving

There’s been a lot of speculation lately on the purpose of Twitter and if it’s creators are keeping up with the times. While Twitter’s changes have happened arguably slower than say Facebook or Snapchat the platform is far from dying. Currently Twitter is the girl who insisted on getting bangs and now that she has them, she hates them. So what does she do? She starts the process of growing them out. That’s right, Twitter is currently growing out it’s bangs.

It’s no secret that to last in the social world you’ve got to be able to monetize your product. In the words of DJ Quick: if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. The argument with Twitter is that while the social site has figured out how to monetize their business currently, it is unclear on how that will look in three years, or if it will even be possible. Especially when content is limited to 140 characters.

Companies go through low points sometimes, that is why the idea of rebranding exists. You have to come out of the gate with something new every once in awhile and show the haters that you’re still in it for the long run, just like the girl with the horrible bangs. Personally, I think Twitter is here to stay, but I also think the folks over at Twitter need to forget about why they launched the site and accept the fact that it has evolved into something else, something greater if you ask me.

1. It is a sounding board for injustices happening all across the world.

Think about the hacktivists group anonymous, who recently began releasing the names of high profile leaders in this country who are also associated with the KKK. Or what about the hundreds of Nigerian girls who are still missing? People are demanding their return to this day with the hashtag #BringOurGirlsBack. Even the Boston Marathon Bombing unfolded on Twitter, not via a news organization, but by people who were on the ground as it was happening (some of whom happened to be journalists, but still). Journalists can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how hard they try, these major events and the updates that came with them are proof of Twitter’s importance in our lives today.

2. It is a news outlet for the generation that doesn’t read the newspaper.

The fact is, more than half of Twitter users say that they use it as their online news source and while most of those users are millennials, not all are. Why go to a news site, local or national, when you can search a hashtag, get the gist of an article and see that your best friend from high school is eating Chipotle for lunch all on the same platform? While news outlets in the past have only used Twitter for breaking news and office shenanigans their use of the microblogging site has changed because they recognized readers were no longer going to their website to read stories. Instead, these news organizations went to where their readers (or potentials readers) are. Even Twitter itself announced its own IPO via 140 characters. The death of Twitter could also mean the (second) death of news because let’s face it, most people won’t take the time to go to a news site and read the trending stories.

3. It is why #BlackLivesMatter still has a voice.

The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag is almost three years old, in yet it is still going strong on Twitter. While it may be because more than half of the platforms users are people of color, it is also because there is no other platform or news outlet giving an hourly (and sometimes quicker) play by play of what is going on. While activists such as Deray and Zellie could spend their days solely being interviewed by the press, it doesn’t do much for them when their words get construed to mean something else. Twitter has allowed Blacks and allies alike to voice their frustrations, opinions and updates on the movement faster than any news outlet ever could.

There seems to be this expectation for Twitter to follow Facebook’s lead, but if users wanted Twitter to become more like Facebook, they’d just get on Facebook. Getting the news, sharing updates or trying to persuade someone to purchase a product in 140 characters or less is no easy job. To me, it’s not so much about what Twitter will do to keep from dying, it’s what brands, advertisers and publications will do to stay relevant on a site that is so simple people are finding ways to complicate it. While it is true that Twitter executives have a lot to think about in the coming years, the websites departure is highly unlikely. Instead of speculating, users should be supportive while the site grows out its bangs, gets highlights and transforms.

Why Having a Black Friend Is Not Enough

In case you missed it, on Monday a video surfaced of a policeman in Columbia, South Carolina dragging and pulling a black student from her desk while her classmates and teacher watched. Almost immediately conversation and speculation swirled around the internet.

While some wanted to wait to see if the student “provoked” the officer (which would not have warranted that type of force on a student) others immediately felt that it was another instance of police brutality against Blacks in America. And it was.

I don’t need to know what she did before the police officer attacked her, I don’t need to know if she had a history of disobedience at Spring Valley High School. What I need to know is why is this still happening after almost a year and a half of conversation about race and police brutality against Blacks in America.

So on Tuesday, to shed some light on the situation, Sheriff Leon Lott got up on a podium and tried to justify the deplorable acts that occurred Monday afternoon and it was very problematic.

First, Lott said their investigation would only based on if the officer acted within the training he received from the police department, insinuating that he force the officer used could have been appropriate. Then he patted himself on the back for “swiftly” asking the FBI to investigate this case as well. And finally, Lott attempted to dispel the idea that the officer treated the student the way he did because she was Black by saying the officer who used unnecessary force to handcuff the student “has been dating an African American female.” But since when does dating a Black women mean that a person can’t be racist? Why does dating a black women automatically excuse him from the crime?

It seems that any time a person says or does something that is racist the excuse to quickly follow is something along the lines of “I’m not racist, I have a black best friend!”

But what does that do for me? What does that do for the mother who has to watch her child get slammed to the ground over and over again on various media outlets? What does that do for 12 year old Tamir Rice whose life was taken away from him way too soon? What does that do for his parents? What does that do for the little black boys and black girls scared to leave their houses every morning because time and time again the world has shown them that their lives in fact do not matter? That they deserve to be treated as men and women when they are barely over the age of 14.

I need people to stop using having a Black friend, significant other, family member, etc. to excuse the racist comments that come out of their mouths or racist actions that occur.  Knowing a Black person, smiling at a Black person and even hiring a Black person are not reasons to ignore the problematic things that happen to Black people on a daily basis. These things are not the same as being an ally and should not be confused with that either. Racism is a systemic issue, it is deeper than your personal relationships with Black people.

You want to be an ally, use your privilege during intense moments, call friends and family members out when they try and belittle the treatment of Black people by police in this country. Provide overwhelming support for Black loved ones in your life, we need it. And finally never, ever use your relationship with a Black person as an excuse for why you cannot be racist or oppressive.

I am (still) not my hair

This is the second posts I have written about natural hair, you can find my original thoughts here.

So it’s Tuesday night, I’m doing my nightly scroll through Facebook when my finger slips and accidentally clicks on a video I had no intention of watching. It’s a black woman, a news anchor, and almost immediately I hear the words “natural hair” and “in the workplace” and as a curly girl new to the working world, I’m intrigued. The next minute and forty seconds is complete and utter bullshit to me, but for the sake of reference, here’s the video I am referring to.

Malcolm X once said “The most disrespected woman in America, is the Black woman,” and the fact that the video above even had to be made and published for all of society to weigh in on proves that statement, if only a little bit. I really don’t understand the obsession that society has with policing black women’s bodies, but it has got to stop. We cover up too much, we’re prudes, we show too much skin, we’re hoes and if we wear our hair the way it grows out of our head, we’re unprofessional and it’s a distraction.

This video and the way Corporate America reacts to black women’s hair upsets me because still, in 2015, people of color are scrutinized, ostracized and down right rejected because of things they cannot control. I understand that broadcast journalism is a different playing field, and no I have not seen a woman of color rock her natural hair on a newscast yet, and that is exactly the problem.

Natural hair is deemed unprofessional because it is unfamiliar, because this student’s (probably white) professor does not understand it, because they don’t have to. But it’s about time that society stops using a lack of knowledge as an excuse to police someone else and how they were created.

The fact is, there is NOTHING unprofessional about natural hair. In the past year alone I:

Represented Dell on the University of Missouri campus with natural hair.

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Represented Bud Light on the University of Missouri campus/in Columbia, MO with natural hair.

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Graduated from the University of Missouri while rocking my natural hair.

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And got a full time job in the journalism field all while having natural hair.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 9.16.35 PMFascinating, isn’t it? And would you believe that my hair has yet to disrupt the flow of a work day, crazy stuff.

If you’re reading this and you are perplexed, I want to help you: first, there is nothing wrong or unprofessional about the way hair grows out of a black woman’s scalp. Second, requiring a black woman to change her appearance, especially when it is something she cannot control is truly what is unprofessional. Lastly, think about why natural hair is unprofessional to many. What about it bothers businesses so much that they think it is okay to ask a woman with natural hair to potentially damage her hair in order to fit European standards of beauty?

Here’s a thought; instead of criticizing what you don’t understand, ask questions. Stop demonizing black women for how they choose to wear their hair. Stop pushing European standards of beauty on a group of women who were not made to look like that. And please stop associating black features with unprofessionalism and ugliness, doing so allows others to and continues the stereotype that black women cannot be beautiful the way they were created.