It has been a few weeks since I’ve blogged because I was having my own personal pity party. I would visit my blog and even jot down notes but I couldn’t put my thoughts in order. As time went on, I also became upset with myself for not being able to formulate a sentence let alone a paragraph and so I avoided the blog altogether! It wasn’t until I was on Twitter and saw a tweet that requested that we reach out to a fellow blogger who had been contemplating suicide, that I found my own voice again.
As I left a comment on her site giving my two cents and trying to help her see the value in her life, I had no choice but to listen to my own words. At the end of my post I told her that it was time to pull up her boot straps and remember who she was before the stresses of marriage, kids and life took over. Funny how I could so clearly see how to “Fix” her but was in the midst of my own pity party where I had forgotten who I was and wanted to be before those very similar stresses had me running from myself.
It was so easy for me to tell someone else they were valuable and yet so easy for me to forget how valuable I was. For so long whether it was right or wrong, my “Worth” was attached to my work. I was a banker. I worked for a well known Community Bank and when I was announced anywhere, it was always as “Kirsten Upshaw, Manager of XYZ Bank.” So when I lost my job, I went through an identity crisis. All of a sudden, I was no longer who I had become known as and suddenly I felt lost. I was also embarrassed at myself because I had drunk the Kool-Aid and began to define myself through the eyes of my employer and once I lost my job, I, for a minute, looked at myself through their eyes and I felt like a failure.
Never mind that my “Failure” was brought about by decisions that were out of my control by people who never believed in me in the first place so you have to wonder why I or anyone would put much stock into an opinion that’s sole purpose was to do exactly what it did which was destroy. It took me a few weeks to come to grips with my new title of “Kirsten Upshaw” and a lot of soul searching because suddenly I had to figure out who I was without a corporate title. And just like when I lost my title of “Wife” after my divorce, I realized that being me makes me happy and anytime I have tried to please anyone and stepped outside of myself, I have ended up unhappy and trying to figure out how I got there.
So many times we follow and act how others tell us we should act knowing full well that it is a decision that will lead us directly where we ended up…starting over. Recognizing your worth and demanding that others do as well, is very important to your overall happiness. Just remember, giving yourself wholly to anything or anyone other than God, will never make a situation better so arm yourself with that knowledge and happily live your life the way you want to…not how they think you should. You are allowed to have your pity party but like my momma used to say–“You can’t wallow in self-pity forever.” At some point you have to get over it, pull yourself up and do what the Lord put you on this earth to do.
It is time for the state of Florida to recognize that its residents are hiding behind the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law. ‘Stand Your Ground’ has become the “go to” excuse to shoot first and then say–“I felt threatened.” In the Trayvon Martin case, George Zimmerman felt “threatened” by Trayvon because he reacted to Zimmerman’s “stalking” of him…and he stalked him because he fit the “profile”. The profile being a young black male walking along and minding his business. There are people who would and have said that Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty but those are people who haven’t had to worry about their boys simply walking to the corner market and coming home in a body bag.
The stories are endless of young black men being gunned down for simply being young black men and when I wrote the post The Responsibility Of Raising A Black Boy, I expressed my concern as a pregnant mother finding out the child I was carrying was a baby boy. Knowing how the world viewed him and the lengths to which they would go to discourage his success, including murder, sent my already stressed mind reeling.
The day I went to the hospital to find out the sex of my son, we were sitting in the waiting room and on the television, they were discussing the very controversial comments conservative William J. Bennett made on his talk show September 29th, 2005 in which he stated–“if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose — you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” Bennett quickly added that such an idea would be “an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do.” But, he said, “your crime rate would go down.”
We both sat there and shook our heads, incredulous at what we’d heard and as the host of the show debated with her guests about how insensitive and wrong his comments were, my name was called to go find out what I was having. As we stood up, I looked at my boyfriend and said–“They are trying to exterminate y’all!”
William Bennett’s comments are nothing knew to the black community and neither is having to deal with the possibility of losing our young men to violence for no other reason than the color of their skin.
The recent use of the ‘Stand Your Ground Law‘ hasn’t been about standing your ground so much as it has been about using it as a smokescreen to hide the deep seeded hatred that has been bred for generations in this country. We are supposed to believe that seventeen year old young men who were buying junk food and listening to elevated music (things all seventeen year olds do) and until harassed, were unaware these men even existed, were somehow so dangerous that both Zimmerman and Dunn even saw phantom weapons which, they claim, is why they made the decision to shoot.
We tell our children to stay away from drugs and tell them to steer clear of the wrong crowd and now we have to tell them that even after doing ALL of that, there is still a chance that you will be shot and/or killed… so as a parent, what am I supposed to tell my son to help him avoid that? Would you know what to tell yours?
Raising children is already a hard enough job without having to worry and be constantly reminded that at any moment your child’s life could be taken based on a “feeling”. Enacting laws that allow for a person to act before they think has already been proven detrimental and two families are now dealing with having lost their sons to senseless, unprovoked violence with this law being used as the excuse for their deaths.
Gone are the days when we had to sit back and accept our children being harmed and with the recent campaign to end this controversial law gaining momentum, there is hope that the ineffectiveness of this law will be exposed and ultimately repealed. If nothing else, we owe it to the memory of those who died to have it taken off the books.