Category Archives: Peace

Stay Woke

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The night is black
Our skin is black
Yet the world flashes
With lights
That are red and blue
As the world wakes up
To an orchestra of sirens
After the introductory
Boom boom boom.
And your son or your daughter
Your brother or your sister
Your nephew or niece
Comes to you and says,
“I heard the fireworks.
They woke me up.
I see the reds
And the blues in the sky,
But I don’t see the big boom.
Where’s the spark?
Where’s the explosion?”
And you look that child
Deep in their eyes
And you realize
“Baby, that’s exactly
What I’m trying to find.
That’s the thing I ask myself.”
And you aren’t feeding him lies.

You truly think to yourself
When will people see the spark?
When will they hear an explosion?
When will my brothers and my sisters
Wake up and see the red and blue hues
For what they really are?
Those alarms don’t mean
Music to my ears.
They make opportunity
For my fears.
The fact that the badge to me
Is more of a warning
Of the devil in blue
Than an angel on earth
Means we need to wake up.
We have to rise from our slumber
And make our own explosion,
Our own thunder.

Now why is it that our children,
Who can’t even vote,
Are dying in the name of America?
Why are they dying in America?
And why is it
That when they die
Our protests are seen
As hyperboles and jokes?
Why must they die
For our people to wake up?
For their people to wake up?
Because if I wear
A black hoodie and blue jeans
That means
I’m the director
Of the city’s crime scenes?
Because “protect and serve”
Can be exchanged
For “project and slay”?
Why is there a new case each day?
At least that’s how it seems
With the most recent of things.
There’s always a new one.

Hashtag rest in peace my angel.
Hashtag you got your wings.
Hashtag never forget.
Rest in peace
Because we haven’t found it here.
Rest in peace
Because we’re still restless.
Rest in peace
Because dying is the only way to get it.
That’s the price of peace?
Death?

The irony of the land of the free
And the home of the brave.
Where our people
Fear the youth
And dark skin.
Where the new slaves
Are still shackled in chains.
Where our leaders
Pray we stay sleeping.
Land of the free
And home of the brave.
One nation under God.
One nation together
As long as we stay divided
From bottom to top.
One nation united
As long as you stick to a curfew,
Walk on sidewalks,
Stay away from skittles,
And find a way to hide
The melanin you inherited
From your dad and/or mom.

Now call me selfish,
But with a father who looks Arab
And a brother who knows he’s black.
My father is named Martin.
My brother is named Martin.
I’m just grateful
I’m not hashtagging
Rest in peace to my Martins.
Because I know all too well
No one is safe
Unless I have the right friends,
Know the right places,
And disown the ancestors
Who make up my faces,
I’m not safe.
My family is not safe,
My friends are not safe,
My fellow Americans are not safe.
All college educated,
All clean records,
All good people,
But no one is safe.

Officer, what was my crime?
Was it the fact that I was out at 1am
With my brother
On my way to Taco Bell
Because I was hungry?
Or was it the fact that my skin
Blends more into the night than yours?
And I can’t deny it
My roots aren’t from the land of the free
And the home of the brave.
You’re right about that, Officer.
I’m no Native American
Because I can’t trace my ancestry
To the Iroquois or the Cherokee.
I just know I was born on U.S. soil
That was stolen from the Spanish
In a war I had no part in.
And, on this night,
That I choose to get a quesadilla
And nachos with guacamole on the side
I see five patrol cars pass by
And I tell my brother
“Junior be careful I’m scared.
Something doesn’t feel right.”
And I didn’t feel safe
‘Till we were both
In our home.
I didn’t hear any boom boom booms.
There were no fireworks tonight.
No rest in peace tweets,
But a friendly reminder
To stay woke.
.

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Remember, But Remember to Grow

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Thirteen years ago today, the United States fell victim to a series of terrorist attacks, which most notably changed the New York City skyline forever. This led to a full on war with Iraq abroad and a dose of prejudice toward Muslim Americans. Today, over a decade later, we are still facing the effects of those attacks. Unfortunately, there is no doubt about the tragic scenes that have taken place on U.S. soil, but, instead of using those hard times to bash those we believe to be at fault, we should work as a unified country to lift ourselves back up as a whole. If the United States is trying to coin its cultural diversity, then why not embrace the differences amongst ourselves to help us learn?

It’s not fair to hold all Muslims at fault for what happened on September 11, 2001 and it’s not fair to the generation of Americans growing up in a post-9/11 United States either. It’s time we move on from the stereotypes this tragedy has sparked and prove we are a better country because of it. We have to prove that we’ve grown, we’ve learned, and we’ve unified our country. The soldiers and civilians who gave their lives as a result of 9/11 shouldn’t have died in vain. So let’s take today as an opportunity to remember America’s past, but also as a chance to honor the fallen by proving we have become better people.

Forgive

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Forgiveness is perceived to be such a complicated concept, but, in reality, it’s one of the most straight forward parts of our lives.  All you have to do is let go.  Of course, you can do other things to help forgiving be easier, but, in reality, forgiveness only matters if you let go.  Letting go is the crucial part of forgiveness.  When you’re hurt by someone, there is a wound that is left.  Sometimes you hardly realize that there even is an impact.  Other times it takes years for the scar to even begin to fade, but, if you ever want that wound to completely heal, you have to let go of whatever caused it. Like I said, forgiveness can be achieved by doing different things, but letting go is the point of it all.

The best way to forgive is to understand what happened.  Remove yourself from your personal mentality and open your eyes to other perspectives.  Look at the situation through the eyes of the person who hurt you or even a completely unrelated third party.  Look at what that person did, look at what you did, look at what was happening around you, look some place that isn’t even visible.  Maybe you’ll see something that will change your perspective.  Maybe what you see will make it easier to see where that other person was coming from.  This all boils down to learning how to understand others.

Be more understanding and sensitive to the situations of others.  Don’t be so quick to judge why someone chooses to do something.  Instead, understand what they’re background is, what they meant versus what they did, their mindset, their character.  You may learn something that reveals they didn’t mean to hurt you or they didn’t mean to make a personal attack against you.  It may have been a defense mechanism, a form of tough love, or even a complete accident.  It might even be the only way they know how to respond.  What if they were dealing with things that didn’t allow them to see the hurt they unintentionally caused you?  All of this can help you see the situation for what it was and not how you perceived it the first time.

Just remember that understanding why a person did something doesn’t mean that they’re correct; however, it allows you to learn why they did it in the first place.  Not all pain comes from hatred and a desire to be cruel.  Some pain comes from pain itself.  If you can understand why pain was caused, you can definitely understand how to remedy it. You can understand if the person who hurt you was suffering as well or if they truly meant no harm by what they did.  You can understand if you weren’t in the position to look at the situation for what it was, altering your judgment and perception.  Either way, understanding can lead to closure, making letting go much easier.

However, if you still don’t understand the motive and if you still don’t see a different point of view, then just let it go.  What good does it do you to continue dwelling on a wound?  That wound is only hurting you, so let it go, leave it alone, and allow it to heal.  Simply forgive.  People make mistakes.  We all have done things that we aren’t proud of, that we have asked forgiveness for, so realize that whoever hurt you is only a being that has made a mistake just like how you have made so many in your life.  If you don’t forgive, you’re only hurting yourself.  More importantly, perhaps it is yourself you have to forgive.  If so, make peace with yourself and with the people you hurt.  Understand why you made those decisions you now regret, learn from them, and grow as a person.  If you aren’t the same person who made those mistakes in the past, then don’t punish your present self.  Instead, accept that the past occurred and prove to the world that you have changed for the better, having learned from your mistakes.

Additionally, if you’re waiting for an apology, then you aren’t prepared to forgive in the first place.  An apology is, in all actuality, just a set of words.  Sometimes they are said with proper meaning, but, most times, an apology is attached to an imbalance of power.  It is a power move, demonstrating who the alpha party truly is.  A person apologizes, essentially begging for forgiveness, as another looks down with the decision of forgiving them or not.  It is a power struggle about the ego.  I, on the other hand, would much rather have a person show me they have made positive changes in their life and that they have grown from their past as opposed to hearing “I’m sorry,” but seeing no real improvement in their behavior.  Even after someone repents, who’s to say you’ll still let go?

The only way to ensure peace of mind is to let go of everything that’s hurt you.  Simply forgive.  It is the easiest thing you can do.

Never Forget

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September 11 Memorial

It’s been 12 years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and, although some people think enough time has passed, I  think most people will agree when I say that I don’t think it’s an event that can be easily forgotten.  Thousands lost their lives that day and even more have continued to put their life on the line to make sure that those people didn’t die in vain.  Every time a person visits that memorial in New York City, that day will be remembered and respected, just as those people will be remembered as well.  It’s something that will always be engrained in the history of the United States, so it’s not at all fair to suggest that it’s a thing of the past.  I agree that America as a whole needs to continue forward, but I think that we have already begun that healing process and it isn’t fair to say that the country is hanging on to a distant memory.  In fact, for many, this traumatic experience is still fresh in their minds and is continuing to affect their daily lives whether it’s in the form of a daughter who was killed that day or a father who is overseas fighting in a war because of these attacks.  9/11 happened 12 years ago, but it’s effects are still being felt today.  I recognize that not everyone was directly affected by these attacks and there are even some individuals who were too young to remember it today; however, as a person who was living in New York when the attacks happened, I saw the devastation it caused and I know just how impacting it truly was.  Having relatives who were living and working in the city at the time and knowing that my father was supposed to be in Manhattan that day, but, instead stayed in Brooklyn, it was very real for me.  I’ll admit, not as real as my classmates who lost parents in the attacks, but real enough for me to realize that 9/11 would be a day I could never forget.