|| S E L M A ||

selma-globos-de-oro-2015_opt2_ Selma is my story, because I attend a university where you can walk into a classroom and find at least a handful of people who do not look the same, because of the very fact that I can attend a university at all and receive an education. Because I have mentors from all different backgrounds who teach, inspire and encourage me to be all that I can be and more.

Selma is my story, because my church declares every Sunday that we are multi-cultural and multi-generational and they mean it. Because there are black, white and women leaders who say ‘yes’ to more of Jesus and aren’t afraid of selfless leadership.

Selma is my story because I know what it feels like to fall in love with someone whose skin tone does not match your own. The overwhelming thought of you two being together makes adversity a little more bearable and the thought of your hands holding puts judgment right where it belongs…behind you.

Selma is my story because I am a human and I feel deeply. Because I have seen disasters much too close to those traumas being portrayed in movies that are occurring right now.

Selma is my story because I have Asian, Latin, Black, and Caucasian best friends who mean the world to me. Selma is my story because I live in a house of eight girls who do not all look the same.

Selma is my story, because I am African-American, because I am a woman because somewhere running through these veins of mine is a history I am not so distant from. Because my father and mother are African-American male and my siblings are all different shades of caramel and chocolate.

Selma is our story. Because you’re reading this, because we’ve sat down for coffee, because we’ve had a class together, because we’ve made eye contact, because I’ve hugged you, because we’ve cried together, because we’ve smiled in each others direction, because you’re human and because I’m human.

Yesterday watching Selma, I wept the whole time, hurled forward, weeping, trying to keep myself from throwing up in hurt, in disgust, in frustration. I wept the entire film because though they were portraying history, I couldn’t help but think of all the similarity in the stories we see in our news today. Bodies left on the ground, people begging for their lives, the simple desire to be seen as a person, with rights and the chance for freedom, and a voice that should never be told to stay silent.

These stories are not to make you feel guilty; they are to make you aware. Aware that you have a role in this world, a role that requires you to start conversations that bring about awareness and stir something in people that they may have never known needed to be stirred.

Sometimes…I often forget where I come from; I often forget the ancestors who I never knew paved a way for what our world looks like today.

When I went and saw Selma I was with a handful of other Interns from my church Fellowship Monrovia and afterwards we all met outside to debrief and process. Even though I had not plugged back into reality yet, the moment I came outside and saw every face of friends and peers, I wept all over again. It was that Selma march, the boycotts, those peaceful and diligent steps towards reconciliation that allowed us to be able to stand there together like that; it was an overwhelming, heavy and humble reminder.

You see,

it is no loner acceptable for us to say, “we didn’t know.”  

There is so much at our fingertips now that begs us to pay attention and to feel, but most importantly to act. To remember that in each and every one of us there is a purpose, a calling to sow as much peace back into this world of chaos that we can. The beauty of Martin Luther King Jr. outside of what he did, outside of how he led, was who he was. A man of gentleness, of compassion, of intelligence but mostly a man of God, one who communed with God in such a way that causes me to ask, Who do we have leading us today like that? Do they sit in the midst of a major decision, stop everything they’re doing, and pray to seek the wisdom of the only one who truly has answers? Do WE do that? Are we men and women after God’s own heart? A heart of peace, wisdom, change, grace, and reconciliation?

I think we get confused; we mash this all together and call it a "racial issue" or "a thing of the past." My goodness, that is absolutely not the case, because if we are still encountering situations where human beings are not being viewed as exactly that, and then we are doing something terribly wrong. If we believe that this is a racial issue, then even after so many years…we still don’t get it because it’s not a racial thing. It’s a people issue, a human issue, it’s simple really...do you have blood running through your veins? Is there a heart beating in your ribcage? Then it’s your issue too and mine and everyone else's. It is movies like Selma that remind us goodness we’ve come so very far, but oh my we have so much further to go.

It is my plea that you go and see this movie. I don’t care what your hesitance is, I don’t want to know when the last time you saw a movie was…. just go see this. If you have any desire to be someone who challenges others, who loves well and with diligence, who hopes that this place is capable of being so much brighter then please… go see it. And afterwards, start a conversation; that doesn’t mean turn to your nearest black friend and ask them a bunch of questions because honestly, we don’t know much either, but we do know that there is no way that we’re going back there. We do know that even though life is hard now, there have been paths paved and we plan to keep going that way. We don’t want your apologies for what happened then, that does nothing. We know it’s not your fault, but I realize that after a few conversations with dear friends after I had to tell them,

"Please don't ever be sorry, because you have loved me (Arie) so very very well. Watching that was not for you to be burdened by your guilt, it was so that now you can be actively in tune with the change you were already apart of." 

Your awareness, your desire for change, your willingness to feel deeply…that does a great deal of something. And when you have all that, knowledge and passion and feeling, do something with it and spread it all over real good, okay?

That’s where it begins.

With me && with you, that’s exactly where it begins.