Bishop Michael Curry, an Explainer Essay

Joshua Lawrence LAzard

First things first. Bishop Michael Curry is the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. That means he’s the top Episcopal bishop in all of the United States, along with other countries and territories in the Western Hemisphere. His only direct report is the Archbishop of Canterbury, the seat of the Anglican Church. Of whom, is run by the British monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Many felt that Bishop Curry’s “American style” of preaching was over-the-top. Some commented that he preached too long. Some said that because of all of that, it focused on him. But because of how race plays into everything—even across the pond—most the reactions and responses to the sermon came off as veiled statements for people who wanted to say it was just “too black.”

To be fair, many of the reactions were from demographics wholly ignorant of not…

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When Black Culture Goes Mainstream

Joshua Lawrence LAzard

It was announced on April 16, 2018 that rapper Kendrick Lamar was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music. In a society where awards seemingly get distributed like water bottles after a natural disaster, sometimes the gravity of these awarding bodies gets lost in the shuffle. This was not a Grammy nor a BET or MTV music award, but the Pulitzer Prize. This award is often thought of as the journalism and news media award. It’s a badge of honor that the major media outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post rake up with abandon year after year.

The Pulitzer Prize for Music was not an original category in the will of founder Joseph Pulitzer, but was added later in 1943. In 1965, the jury wanted to award a special citation to Duke Ellington for his body of work feeling that no one singular composition was…

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Going worldwide with -Their World!

https://theirworld.org/voices/more-funding-needed-for-pre-primary-education-say-global-youth-ambassadors

Memories

I thought about what it would feel like to lose someone near and dear to me, in empathy for my friends whom I saw suffer through grief. It was agonizing to watch helplessly as tears flowed down their faces. I didn’t know what to do or what to say to at least attempt, to lessen their larger than life burdens. I grieved for them too.

Then I lost a friend. Then another, then another… all in one year.

To say that I was broken wouldn’t even begin to cover it. Because I wasn’t broken, I was breaking apart. Every single minute of the day. The pain pierced through my heart with a vengeance. I felt things I had never before felt in my life. Things I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. An indescribable pain. It was hollow and empty, desolate and reaching. The kind that left you torn apart with a throbbing panic, once it hit you that they are really gone. Each time I thought of one of them, there was a tear. And when something reminded me of them in the slightest of ways, there were streams.

I’m not a ‘cryer’. Rather, I don’t cry easily. So I see how part of my company were shocked, that one time I just burst out crying inconsolably. On a road trip we’d decided to take in the spur of the moment, just one of the many perks of this fleeting youth, when we’d stopped at some hilly scenic spot just outside of the city. In the wave of taking selfies and cracking open a few cold ones, I took a pause to take it all in. Fresh air and all!

Clear blue skies, a cold light breeze and vast lands. That rare, deeply cherished quietness that only exists away from the city’s bustles. The just perfect morning sun whose rays kiss your skin with a tenderness so warm and reassuring of just how much Mother Nature cares. All while the earth still struggled to clear the dew that had set on it from the night before. It’s perfect, I thought to myself, he’d have loved it here.

The moments that followed were a blur. My heart broke a new. I relived every waking moment we spent together, simultaneously replaying every detail from his death to his funeral, until after the repass. I wondered how other people could go on with life without him in it because mine seemed to be at a standstill. I was angry at everything that day. I was angry at him, for dying in the way that he did, I was angry that he had left me in this god-forsaken world all alone, I was angry at the world for letting him go and at myself, for not holding on tight enough. When I stopped being angry, I became sad. And after being sad I stayed wallowing in between a constant state of ‘why’ and ‘WTF’ because until now, I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how one of the most genuine, caring, selfless and inherently good, human beings can just stop the existing one day. One day they are here and the next they’re gone. How in a split second, I lost my person, my people, my world.

Days go by and you realize you haven’t cried in a while. Sometimes you feel guilty for forgetting them. And you hate yourself for it.

Every so often though, you see, hear or smell something and it reminds you of them. When this wonderful world gets heavy, you wish they were around to help you weather the storms. And once again the pain hits you like a fresh open wound, cut on violent impact.

The world slows down. There you go, feeling too much again…

Does it ever really get better?

Identity!

Why is it so easy for us humans to latch onto pain?

While holding on to pain, in sorrow and/or anger, we often wrap ourselves in a pseudo-comforting frame. “The thing about pain, is that it must be felt,” we tell ourselves. And we do – feel it. For a while. And then a little while longer, then just some tiny bit more. Can’t rush the heart, amirite?

But what if we hold on too tight? How do we know when it’s time to release?

Is it when we realize that we haven’t gotten out of bed for a week? When we notice we haven’t stepped outside for a month? When you stop receiving phone calls or replying to texts?When you can’t keep anything down anymore? When you can’t remember what a decent night’s sleep feels like because you hate that you love the thoughts that keep you company in the dark? Or is it after that big bubbly glass of Belvedere you now call breakfast? Chased down with three too many shots of a José Cuervo variation at 10.30 am. Perhaps it was time, when you continued to pop those pills you were talking as anxiety medication even though the doctor said to stop? Still going… When you were walking down the street and got knocked down by a car because you were so caught up in your thoughts that you couldn’t be in the present moment just long enough to even cross the road? Maybe the signs were still a bit blurry when you took that 3 month trip without letting anyone know? Nope, not quite yet… How about that time you slit your wrists? You were so tired of it all that you wanted to end it. And you almost did!

Why do we keep pushing when we know it hurts? When we feel it burning, consuming us? Corroding our last few threads of wellness and positivity? Why do we let it get that far?

Maybe it’s because we have been hurt so much that it has become our identity. So much so that we don’t know who we are without our pain or our struggles, our demons! What if we really don’t know ourselves beyond our hurt? And we can’t really tell who or what we truly are, without all of it? That we grew into our hurdles and let allowed them to close us in…And it would take too thorough and deep a process, to begin rooting out ourselves from the sludge that has come to define us?

(Food for thought)!!!

2017- Here’s to you!

I’m not exactly sure how and if I can describe it. The year 2017! Because boy oh boy, it sucked. Bigtime! But gaddamn it also was incredibly good to me. The absolute best! So how do I write of my best days when they were underscored with the worst of lows?

See, 2017 left me so emotionally discombobulated that I wouldn’t know how most befitting to place it. 

I experienced some of my best days ever, during the course of this year. Needless to say, it seemed as though for every good turn made, only a true opposite was attracted. And in every step forward, two others back. A high here and a low there with a higher tomorrow and an even lower day after. I became so plateaud in my growth that for the life of me, I cannot account for the events that have happened this 2017. Not to say I cannot remember, trust me, I lived through it, I can very vividly remember my 2017 to its fine print – it’s just that I cannot deduce from it, a particular feat and say this was a good thing, without taking note of the conspiquos devil in the detail, whereas neither can I say, for sure and for certain, that this one thing was all bad and nothing positive came from it.

Above all none-the-less, 2017 saw me curve out the most life-lessons. My mum says I’m just growing and true to form I just turned 24, so indeed, mid-twenties kicked in with a helluva barrage of classes. And I took several seats alright! Still, I’d be more inclined to chalk it down as life just being life.

From the very beginning, the highways and bumps intertwined with a vengence… While I said my final goodbyes to friends I never thought I’d loose so soon, I welcomed a new addition to family. While I made my biggest career move, I let go of a path I thought I was destined for. I spoke on the biggest platforms, while being shut down on podiums I anticipated to be heard. While I lost some of my longest serving friends, I made new ones who redefined what it meant to have and be a friend. I lost a love that I thought would last for eternity and gained another that made me understand why the former didn’t work out to begin with. And while blood-lines were strained, I discovered others that helped me understand and cherish the true meaning of family, especially during this rollercoaster of an year. I smiled a lot and cried a lot. Was crushed and created, melted and moulded. I was ecstatic, just as I crumbled down in depression. I felt lonely amidst great company, I had and I lacked. And in between my bouts of lack of ambition, flickers of inspiration pulled me through. I held on and I let go… All in the same breadth.  

Then I learned… I learned that there will be good times and bad, and that you’ll have to take them all as they come. Your reaction to either, is what will make the difference. I learned that love comes and love goes and that toxic is toxic, whether from friends, family or strangers regardless. That time passes. That death is a part of life. That everything fades, money and beauty alike, but what’s most important is who and what you are inside. I learned that life isn’t a competition. And that everyone’s journey is unique, as is their destiny. That everyone you meet and soround yourself with, in one way or another, will impact your life discretely or outrightly. I learned that it’s okay to say no, to leave situations that threaten your happiness and peace of mind and the importance of taking care of self first, to be able to care for others too.

In one of Frank Sinatra’s most popular works, he sings, “That’s life, You’re riding high in April, shot down in May, but I’m gonna change that tune when I’m back on top in June…”

Nothing fucks you harder than time, they say. But it also sets you up straighter, better than anything else. In similar light, it is the same water that hardens the egg which tenders the potato.

Life happens. And when it does, let it. It’s the only thing you can do. “For ours is not to ask why, but to do and die,” wrote Tennison. In enduring the hardships, don’t forget to celebrate the victories.

My mother says, that in that moment you think you’re sailing off into the sunset and it’s all rainbows and unicorns, something happens and it turns out, it’s not all paradise afterall…but in these moments, realize that while not everything can be conquered, almost anything can be survived, lived through. In that balance you find the essence of life.

Goodbye 2017!

😊❤🌞!

WE THE PEOPLE

I recently indulged a senior professional whose career has spun decades in the political space. Why? Because in the wake of my country’s wobbly return to ‘normalcy’, things are still not ‘okay’ and in full disclosure, will they ever be really okay again, or in the very least, the same old Kenya we used to know? I think not!

Much as I tried to convince myself it was but a mere intellectual tête-à-tête , it really was just an undercover quest for hope. Hope that there might be something to look forward to. An assurance that despite the troubled murky waters we attempt to sail in, we still have something to hold on to, in proud statesmanship and unwavering patriotism. Grim!

“You know Chichi, in my experience, I have come upon the realization that a people get a leader well deserving of them,” he bellowed. After-which I immediately burst out in a fit of laughter as if my reflexes were right on cue. He looked at me puzzled at first and proceeded with a frazzled, “…I see how you can get there. But really it’s not a laughing matter. If you think about it, you cannot quite pinpoint a leader who’s not reflective of his people. And that is part of why the west has always been dismissive of and denigrated Africa and its environs.”

Later,I reflected upon his words and it hit me…We really are our biggest issue in this country!

Think about it. We keep complaining about how corrupt our leaders are,how weary we’ve grown of them and how we need to change things. We will scream about electoral reforms, shut down internal media for falsifying news stories and even launch full on twitter attacks trolling whole nations for simple misunderstandings, in retribution of underwhelming entertainers who we knew very well, as in previous, classic fashion would let us down. Kenyans…Sigh!

We reward stolen tax-payer billions and overpriced-under delivered ‘infrastructural projects’ with gubernatorial positions. We rebuke victims of GBV, ridicule them on every platform ever invented and craft jokes as accompaniments. And boy do we hate feminists here.

It is not enough that we ALL bear the brunt of social and economic injustices, we have to go on and be sharply divisive in our speech and actions because our ‘waheshimiwas’ told us to. Who cursed us?

Hunger. Famine and drought. HIV/AIDs, Malaria, Diabetes and Cancer have become death/bankruptcy sentences,because dignified and affordable healthcare has been made a reserve of the less than 3% of the who’s who in this country. Water rationing in the capital since time immemorial. Sanitation, an enviable luxury to most in our vast slums. What is education when lecturers are almost always on strike and universities stay closed most of the year? And don’t even get me started on those horrendously absurd tricks they’re calling educational reforms. A ministry of foreign affairs that never lacks funding nor unwavering presidential support, but our youth suffer in detention in foreign lands for years. Inflated costs of living and 1 in every 2 unemployed Kenyans around you at any one given time. No roads, no electricity in more than half the country_ 50+ yrs after ‘independence’. I weep for you my land!

Which way nduguzanguni?

Still, we will elect the same people who disastrously fall short of their leadership titles and continue to make a strong case for why they should have NEVER been given such roles and responsibilities to begin with. None the less, we are Kenyans and we never learn. Rather, we refuse to learn.

Truth be told: Raila Odinga’s socialist politics WILL NOT deliver electoral justice, or you know, rise to the plate of his messianic promises of milk and honey. Can’t. Not without strategy and swift action. Neither will Uhuru Kenyatta’s outfit bring an end to corruption or even positively contribute to common mwanachi’s living standards. To even imply that he’ll be able to unite a divided country with all and sundry only half convinced of the credibility of his legitimacy is a stretch. Not unless he and his whole team, yes! Whole team, (hustlers included), make a 360 shift and reassure us of their commitment to change and progression by action and not apologist PR! NO! Don’t just be a whistleblower, you’re the president. We need to see things getting done. Surprise us! Recover stolen/missing monies, put people in jail, make them accountable, fire culpable individuals, ensure diversity when hiring. Do something Mr. President. Something!

Further disclaimer: There is no savior. There is no messiah. There is no Canaan. These are things we can get for and by ourselves and whichever way you look at it, we, us, you and I, we create the country we want. We choose the kind of leadership we want, we choose whether or not our systems will work and if our policies will have an impact. We can conquer hate, foster peace and live as one people. We are our own hope. We are our society, our future, our today and our now. So if OUR country is a joke, WE are the punchline! Unless WE say enough is a damn nough, we will forever wallow in this hopeless excuse of survival that we’re calling a life.

And if you think #TanoTena was truly the way to go, brace yourself. We shall revisit this conversation in 2022, which is sooner than you think I assure you. For now however, as we made our beds, so must we lie on them. Buckle up, it’ll be a long 5 years and as predictably gruesome, draining and treacherous as we all thought it would be.

Bon Voyage :)!