This was a big step. It was the summer of 2020 after the protests and outcries for justice was everywhere. I wanted to do my part. I sat in my stuff and said to myself, “I can’t hide anymore. I have to be uncomfortable and make people uncomfortable.” But it’s in the most uncomfortable moments where we grow. It was the self-therapy I needed to not hide the repressive thoughts of unworthiness in who I was. It was a release in putting myself out there as fully me. I shared my testimony of things and emotions I felt in my racial identity as a first generation American of Haitian immigrants and Christian.
Remember this is my experience and my story to tell. I own every part of the experiences that have made me who I am today. I grew from that moment and continue to grow. I am a work in progress and learning that my voice matters. So take this with a grain of salt and listen to my words.
To exhale is an amazing feeling. An intense need to release is human. Our bodies want to feel real. The painful trauma of watching George Floyd’s need for breath haunts me. It took the breathe out of me. Thinking of “I. Can’t. Breathe.”
Being me, a black female of Haitian descent, there are times where I must remind myself to breathe. Though I could tell you the scientific and anatomical methods we breathe, I’m not. The emotional toll of injustice in the country is hard to live through especially when it is your own. Every day feels like a new tragedy, another brother or sister murdered in cold blood and there is no justice for them nor their family. It’s like you almost have to talk yourself out of getting justice because the system tends to diminish our struggle. You can’t breathe in the systems and institutions that make it difficult to breathe.
It makes me numb and hurts to my core. I think of all the people I love who are black. I have a black brother and a black father. It is hard to see them walk out the door. You pray they make it home safely and when they come home, I exhale.
Today, I was shaking when I came home and saw the television on the Derek Chauvin Trial. My body felt a whiplash of anxiety. Nothing can prepare you for a verdict. No matter how many times I tried to calm down, my heart and soul was scared. Chest hurt, pit in my stomach. It’s the stuff that makes you still and unable to function.
But Justice came in that moment. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty. Justice came for the Floyd family.
Then I exhaled.
It’s a weird feeling. You are relieved for justice, sad George is not alive, frustrated at the timeline for justice, unsure if there will be more change, anxious at the sentencing stage, worried if this is the last time justice will be served, empowered that real change is coming, and EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN!
But I will exhale today for George cause he could not. While I am here, I will breathe another breath.
It’s interesting seeing grandiose celebrations like America’s Inauguration Day, Bastille Day Celebrations in France, and the Queen’s Jubilee in the UK. The fancy clothing, the pretty horses, the waving of flags, the performances, and the fanfare of it all for one day or moment.
But when it was Jesus, it was nothing of the sort. Compared to the above events, it would actually be underwhelming to today’s standards. There would be no big ratings or live streaming in all news stations and social media. It would not be a trending topic on Twitter. It would be too boring exactly.
But that never mattered to Jesus. Could Jesus have done the grand celebration? Yes. But, He did not. He humbled Himself which attests to His nature and character.
He was the KING but he would not act as an earthly king. An earthly king thought of himself but King Jesus thought about all people. Actually, I believe Jesus wanted to distinguish Himself. Set His Kingdom apart from the empires of the day. His Kingdom would be eternal.
His humanity went beyond a fleeting, grand celebration and entry. For what He was about do would show a grander, more promising eternity for humanity itself.
This past week marked a year since the world stopped. The pandemic shifted everything. Everything slowed down. Toilet paper and cleaning wipes were selling out like hot cakes. New cases skyrocketing, Death tolls rising…and rising.
As weeks turned into months, it just seemed like there was no end in sight.
God is still God. God had a plan. He knew that the world would stop. God tested us. He is still testing us. And He still has a plan.
It is so hard. I just want things to be normal. But being uncomfortable is the perfect place for God to stretch you.
God stretched me. I had to lean on Him, and not my own understanding. God showed me grace and love. My dog was my saving grace and we spent time together. My family and I were together and were “learning” each other. I had to stop and assess my sanity and eliminate toxicity around me. I had to assess what I cared about. I waited on God and got a job. I decided to take hold of my mental health. I prioritized what is worth my time and what does not.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.-James 1:2-4
We are still in a pandemic. There is so much uncertainty. But, let perseverance finish its work. It takes pressure to make something beautiful. This is not to say pain is great. It’s not. I will be the first to say I don’t like suffering but I know I would not need a Savior if life was perfect.
Hold on, Bliss fam. We will make it. God has a plan. He finishes what He starts. And you can take that to the bank.
I’m back. I have missed you. A lot has happened. The world is uncertain and going crazy right…am I right?
But in the mist of the chaos, I wanted to come back with the medicine of encouragement and Jesus Christ.
In recent weeks, the Coronavirus has been running its course causing social cancellations, social distancing, self quarantine, new cases each day, and uncertainty in the economy and life as we know it.
God has ways of getting our attention. We can see that clearly. He can strip all the excess and distractions until we are at the end of ourselves. Where we are at the end of our ourselves, God steps in.
God never lets anything happen without a purpose and reason. No season of life is without a lesson.
Trust. Yes, trust.
God is stripping away the physical securities for us to draw closer to Him. It’s like a back to basics. Trust God in every part of your life: your health, your family, your physical body, and your decisions. The things of this world is temporary. It is really clear.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.-Psalm 9:9-10
It is important to value and be a good steward of the blessings in front of us. Slow down. Take a look around. Value what God has given you. Maybe the lockdown and self-quarantine is the wakeup call. Stop looking at the temporary and look to the eternal: God.
The future is uncertain but God is a certain, constant force to keep living in this day in age. Trust in God. He provides all things and works in all situations. His provision is real and certain.
It’s ok to be scared. We are human. We have emotions but it is important not to stay there. Trust in the God who will comfort and provide in many ways.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.-Psalm 56:3
Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Trust in God’s unchanging power and provision. God’s got us and will see us through
Imagine a father and expectant mother traveling miles to the father’s homeland to be counted in the census. A child was to be born. It was not the unborn child’s choice to travel to this foreign land but was a part of God’s greater plan. It was God’s will for the child to born in his earthly father’s homeland.
The unborn child’s parents were not accepted with a warm welcome or reception to the finest room/hospital. It was a dark night in a city with no vacancy. But there was a stable and a feeding trough for the unborn baby to sleep in.
Then, the mother delivered the Greatest Gift to humanity.
To some, the long-awaited prophesy was fulfilled. To others, He was a threat and some “foreigner” who came to cause trouble.
But this immigrant child, laying in the manger, was the hope that drew smelly shepherds and kings from other lands. An outcast would save the souls of man.
I wanted to write part of the Christmas this way because Jesus loves the immigrants because He was one. He knows what it was like to have a poor reception and to be counted as nothing. The government didn’t like Him, a child who did nothing wrong but be born. God gave this foreigner, Jesus, an ordained purpose.
So don’t look down at other foreigners/immigrants/ children of immigrants because you don’t know what God can do through them. You never know where angels can be.
Ok friends, as long as I have been living, there has been the conflict of Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. People fight and get heartless..and dare I say it annoying to have their way.
I speak for myself, not anyone else. This is a no pressure zone. I’m not preaching but speaking.
I say Merry Christmas because of the true meaning: Jesus Christ. The greatest gift given to humanity came as a humble baby. A King was born to fulfill prophesy. I use it as a witness. I smile and say it. I say it with all my heart with the light of Christ. I understand it is not said in the Bible but I still say it. Merry Christmas…Christ is in it.
I don’t get mad if people say Happy Holidays to me. I just say Merry Christmas back. If they ask why I say Merry Christmas, perfect witness opportunity.
I don’t make a big deal if people say either or neither. I say what I say KINDLY. I realize that I can’t make someone say Merry Christmas. I realize there are people who say Merry Christmas who are so mean it defeats the purpose. I just try to be positive and witness by saying Merry Christmas.
Did you know that June is National Caribbean American Heritage Month? Neither did I until now. This year marks the 14th celebration of National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
This idea came originated from Dr. Claire Nelson, Founder and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies. This campaign caught the attention of Congress. In June 2005, the House of Representatives adopted H.Con. Res. 71 sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee recognizing the Caribbean people and their contribution to the United States. The resolution passed in the Senate and the Proclamation was issued by President George W. Bush on June 6, 2006.
My Caribbean Roots
I am the proud daughter of Haitian immigrants. Haiti Cherie!
The Rough Truth
To be honest, I was not about that Caribbean life growing up. I wanted to be as American as possible. I knew my parents spoke a different language. We had different food. We had different traditions. I wanted to eat McDonalds and American like food. I just wanted to be like my white friends who had the “right american” traditions. I stopped speaking Haitian Creole for a very long time. I had this mentality to be as “normal” as possible.
In my senior year in high school, for our Christmas concert, my choral director wanted us to sing this choral piece called “A Haitian Noel.” Really!?! Singing Haitian Creole!?! I tried to keep quiet about my cultural background quiet but when some students were mispronouncing words I just had to correct them.
“Wait, Bianca you know this language!?!”
“Uhhh..yes. My parents are Haitian.”
The truth is out!
Then my choir director asked me to ask my parents to help us and teach the class this song. My parents were shocked and elated when asked; they made a cassette tape of the lyrics for them (I know I’m old). I was even teaching the class too. What I thought made me odd made me special. We practiced so hard till it was perfected…for a high school chamber choir.
My dad’s work schedule made him miss my choral performances but he took the night off for this concert. I was SO nervous because we would be performing this in front of my parents. But we did it! My parents said they loved it and it meant the world to them to hear their culture represented. My dad actually has the song on his iPhone and still listens it today. I had the chance to thank my choir director for the opportunity to showcase my culture and light the spark.
The Trip of A Lifetime
Only God could have orchestrated my mission trip to Haiti.
In January 12, 2010, our family, along with the world, was in shock over the earthquake that destroyed and killed thousands. We were calling family wondering if everyone was ok. For the most part, everyone was ok but there was damage. My mom already left in March 2010 for a medical missions trip. But there was still a hurt for a country I had never been to.
I finished my sophomore year of college. I was planning on summer school and being home for summer for a little. My campus pastor told me about a last minute short-term mission trip to Haiti. It was paid for by SendMeNow Missions through the Georgia Baptist Convention. All I had to do was get my vaccinations and say yes. My parents had told me for most of my life it’s too dangerous for me to go and when I am older I can go. So I made a deal with God that if He wants me to go, I need to have my parents’ blessing and support. And they gave me their blessing and support.
I went with a great group of people to do vacation bible school and sports camps for the kids. Still friends with them to this day.
It was eye-opening seeing everything. My parents’ stories of Haiti hit me like a ton of bricks. The marketplace, school children walking miles to school, tap taps (their version of transit), dust, smoke, poverty, destruction from the earthquake, no sewer system, women carrying crops on their heads, churches with walls and tarp, and more.
It was then where I understood where my parents were coming from. They grew up with little but survived it. They came to the states with dreams and for their children to have access to everything from an education to clean water.
I had a renewed sense of pride to be a representation of a Haitian American.
I’m proud of my Haiti. No matter what the media or society believes, Haiti is a resilient group of people. We were the first black republic and first independent Caribbean country. Yup…Haiti Cherie!
I love my rice and beans, fried plantains, pate (Haitian patties), Diri ak djon don (black mushroom rice), soup joumou (squash soup eaten New Year’s Day), Legim (like a stir-fry of vegetables), Pikliz (like a spicy coleslaw), and many more.
I love my flavorful spices. I am allergic to bland food. I have been too blessed and spoiled.
And God still dwells in the Haitian people. Christian Haitians have such a light and love for the Word. If you think you will “save” them, you will be blessed by them. And no, not all Haitian people practice voodoo…just sayin.
Caribbean Contribution to America
Just to name a few Caribbean people and their value to the American experience…
Jean Baptiste du Sable (Haiti), the “Founder of Chicago”
Sidney Poitier (Bahama descent), first African-American actor recipient of an Oscar for Best Actor
James Weldon Johnson (Bahama descent), Author of the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing)
Oscar de La Renta (Dominican Republic), fashion designer
Malcolm X (mother from Grenada)
Harry Belafonte (Jamaica/Martinique), civil rights activist and singer
Colin Powell (Jamaica), first black U.S. Secretary of State
John Russwurm (Jamaica), first black editor of a U.S. newspaper and one of the first three blacks to graduate from a U.S. college
Alexander Hamilton (St. Kitts & Nevis), first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury
Dr. William Thornton (Virgin Islands), physician and architect who designed the U.S. Capitol
And the list goes on…
The Pride Is Real
No matter what Caribbean country a person is from, WE MATTER! We are part of the construction and greatness of America.
We are beautiful, smart, resourceful, and diverse. I love meeting and relating with my other Caribbean brothers and sisters. We have similar stories, struggles, stereotypes, concerns, and passions.
In the great words of God, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14).