Thursday, August 29, 2013

Water Under the Bridge

I use to always say there were 2 places in the world I never, ever wanted to visit, let alone live in; Africa and Mississippi. People say that God has a sense of humor. Well that joke was on me because 8 years ago today I was lying on the floor of my aunt's house in Jackson, MS after a long 13 hour drive from my hometown of New Orleans. And I've been a resident of Mississippi ever since. Normally a trip from New Orleans to Jackson, MS is approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. But multiply that times an impending storm, and hundreds of thousands of locals from New Orleans to the Gulf Coast of MS trying to evacuate and suddenly that trip has become a journey.

It was Friday night and I had just gotten home from a meeting. I'm sitting on my sofa watching the 10 o'clock news and the meteorologist starts talking about a hurricane. I literally said to myself "hurricane? What hurricane?" Because you see, I'm a news junkie. And I couldn't believe this was the first I was hearing of a hurricane. My 2nd thought was, it couldn't be that bad since this was the 1st I am hearing of it. Fast forward to Saturday morning and this hurricane is major in a big way. The call for evacuation has started. At the time I was working for the state of Louisiana for the Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health issuing vital records. The Director called all employees early Saturday morning and asked us to "volunteer" to move the manual records from the basement where they were stored to higher ground in case flooding became an issue in the Central Business District of Downtown New Orleans. Me and my loyalty both went and moved records from 8am until 8pm Saturday night. By Sunday morning I had to make a decision to leave New Orleans with my four daughters and get to safety. My cousin called me and asked where we were going and offered us to come to Jackson to his mom's ( my aunt) house. So off we went to Jackson. Me, my four girls and my then fiancee'. ( Who I'm no longer with. Thank God. Even though that info has no relevance on this story.) It's ironic how he was having car trouble the Friday night I first heard of the story and my vehicle was not working. So we are traveling in turtle moving traffic in a vehicle that was stopping on us like every hour. Making an already uncomfortable, unbearable trip even more cumbersome and frightening. Not to mention my mother whom at the time was living in Denver, CO. She kept calling with worry. My daughters at the time were ages 10, 8, 5 and 3. They were tired, scared and hungry.

The vehicle couldn't take anymore of the ex-fiancee' stopping and putting river bank water in it to keep it alive. After 2 jumps ( or boost offs as the Mississippians say)  it finally quit on us in Hattiesburg, MS. My cousin met us in Hattiesburg and we were forced to leave the vehicle there. We made it in my aunt's house approximately 11:30 pm after leaving New Orleans around 10 in the morning. All I could do was collapse from sheer exhaustion. She had an empty room with a nice pallet on the floor and I promise it was like the Ritz Carlton to me because anything was better than dealing with what was going on outside with the storm coming.

It's Monday, August 29, 2005 and Katrina hit. And oh boy did she hit. She made landfall as a category 3 storm and she tore up some stuff from New Orleans to the Gulf Coast. She destroyed any and everything in her path. And sadly she took many lives with her too. For many left behind she took dignity, strength, peace of mind and frame of mind. When I realized what happened to the city I grew up in, the city I loved so much I was devastated. People; neighbors, friends and even some of my family were stuck on bridges, roof tops, in houses and worse the Superdome and the Convention Center where they were treated like less than human and heinous activities with on. Some so heinous I may start crying if I type it. Katrina left many people broken and shattered. We scattered and were separated from our loved ones. Some boarded buses to neighboring states. I didn't know who was alive and who was not. When I was able to see the news ( my aunt lost power for a week) I saw some of my friends and church members standing in Red Cross lines in other states. For weeks I was glued to my cell phone waiting on texts and calls from people I had yet to hear from. The whole time praying to God that they made it out unscathed. I spent many hours on the phone with friends crying to me because they didn't know where their parents were, or some who didn't know where other close relatives were. It was gut-wrenching to say the least.

Eight years have gone by and I remember the devastation like it was yesterday. It will always remain with me but it won't define me nor has it ever been a crutch to me. There are still some areas in my hometown where you can see visible signs of what occurred there some 8 years ago. The people of New Orleans are steadily rebuilding, replenishing and restoring what was once lost. They called us refugees, savages and looters. But in essence we are survivors, warriors and conquerors.

As for me, moving to Mississippi has been a blessing. I graduated from one of the best colleges in the state in 2009, my oldest daughter is now in college and my other 3 are thriving and doing well and I work for a great Accounting Firm. I've also met wonderful people along the way, including a great guy I'm dating and a great church home. Katrina made me realize what I was capable of. She did for many people. She was a nightmare in the beginning that turned into a blessing in the end.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dear Mr. Black Man

Dear Mr. Black man, whoever she is/was that played you, cursed you out, won't allow you to see your kids, slept with your best friend, refused to cook for you, belittled you in front of your family, and made you feel less than a man, it wasn't me. I wasn't the one who slashed your tires, played with your heart, took your kindness for weakness or forgot to stroke your ego after a long day's work. I didn't kick you when you were down. Why are you punishing me for what she did? Why must I feel your wrath when all I want to do is love you, nurture you,encourage you, lift you up, help you , have your back,  hold you and make you feel like the king that you so rightfully are?

I know some of you are like, Tasha Mac what's really going on? Nothing is going on with me personally, however, I feel as though I must address you ( and by you I am talking to Mr. Black man) because I for one as a black woman am tired of being labeled as trifling, ratchet, mischevious, gold digging, stupid all because you fell for the charms and schemes of one who was all the adjectives I aforementioned and then some. We as black women understand that some of you are drawn to women of other races and cultures. It's 2013 we get it, trust me we do. But what we don't get is why you all are using us a scapegoat behind your reasons for doing it?

Recently someone dear to me brought an article to my attention of my favorite singer Maxwell basically cursing people out because he was being attacked for posting mostly pictures of Caucasian women on his Instagram page. He plainly said ( and I'm paraphrasing here) he didn't give a blankedy, blank blank because he prefers white women. Now keep in mind I did say he is my favorite singer. Whenever I hear him sing, I really think he's singing to me. LOL... And we also share the same birthday. How cool is that? So, yes I was a little disappointed to hear his quote that he prefered Caucasian women. He is still my favorite singer and I adore him as such. His preference is just that. His preference. And tonight one of my ex-twitter followers ( he is ex now because he was just plain rude and disrespectful) tweeted "black women are so dysfunctional. I tipped a hostess at the door and she thought I was hitting on her. WTF." So I tweeted him back and said don't label us all over one ratched lady. OMG, why did I say that because dude said he didn't say all , and I can't think logically and it's because I'm a stupid black woman. Now I really had to stop after about the 2nd time tweeting him because otherwise he and I would probably still be going back and forth and I have better things to tweet. But my point is black women as a whole have to feel the wrath, pain and anquish of a black man caused by one woman. And I say one woman because after they get burned by the first one it's all over for the rest of us.

As a black woman, the things I have dealt with from black men are so hurtful and would probably be considered inconceivable to most. However, I refused in my logical and sound mind believe that ALL of you were that way. I just refused. And I'm so glad I never developed that attitude or I wouldn't be dating the great guy I'm with now. Labels belong on envelopes not on human beings.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Love Thy Neighbor

Amy and David Lancaster - Founders of We Will Go Ministries
Yesterday ( August 7, 2013) I performed community service with my coworkers at a place called We Will Go Ministries. The firm I work for has a summer of service project requirement that each employee must participate in annually. You only have to do 1 project per year. When I signed up for We Will Go Ministries I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I really enjoy community service projects and any opportunity to help someone is rewarding in itself. 

Upon arriving at 9am we gathered in the pavilion and the staff of missionaries greeted us with such warmth and gratitude. They began with prayer and meditation and great testimonies. Let me just tell you about the staff of missionaries. We Will Go Ministries was founded by a couple David and Amy Lancaster who by trade are an engineer and dentist respectively. This devout Christian couple left a life of corporate and privilege to answer a call by GOD of true discipleship. They moved their family to Jackson, MS after traveling and being missionaries all around the world and renovated some of the worst crack and brothel houses in the city. They mentor other young missionaries in discipleship so they too can assist with carrying on God's missionary work throughout the city of Jackson. These people are so extraordinary and amazing I felt privileged to be in their presence. I felt as if I were living right in the new testament with true disciples. 

They took us to a place called The Community Center. It's a homeless shelter where people who are in need can receive a meal and wash up. This day they had medical personnel there performing free screenings and some of us participated in the free screenings. Outside a guy named Kevin who was introduced to Christ by the Lancasters after a long life of drugs, and drinking was ministering a word to the people including my coworkers and myself. Kevin's testimony was incredible in itself and inspiring.  After lunch we returned to the We Will Go main house and heard more wonderful testimonies by the other missionaries and we prayed and worshiped the Lord. Which I thought was absolutely wonderful. And then it was on to the bunk houses for painting and cleaning. 

The Lancasters are a Caucasian couple and their missionary staff is mostly Caucasian and some African American. I mentioned this because for the first time in my life I felt as if black and white didn't exist. As if there was no line drawn in the middle of the two races. Often times it's hard to come in contact with so called Christians who do not have a judgmental spirit. You know the ones who say God bless you in one breath and in the same breath talk about you like there's no end. But their cause and destiny goes far beyond color barriers. They reach out to people who have been deemed unreachable. They care for those who aren't being cared for. They truly look past people's faults and see their needs. 

As African Americans it can be difficult to not see the racial divide given the fact that we know our President is being picked apart, disrespected and ridiculed because of his skin color. We are outraged and disheartened over the verdict behind Trayvon Martin. I was there to provide a service to them but in turn they provided a service to me. They gave me a hope that Martin Luther King Jr's " I Have A Dream" speech will not be in vain. People will one day be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

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