Follow me to free
Kingdom life rise to Jah mon
But will I get shot
Death haunts each shadow
Unseen roam the earth below
To be seen I run
Follow me to free
Kingdom life rise to Jah mon
But will I get shot
Death haunts each shadow
Unseen roam the earth below
To be seen I run
by Elise Lockamy
“Don’t have to stay with someone/That makes you cry/ You’ll end up killing all the love you have inside…”
My song of the morning this past week has been Boyz II Men’s “Pass You By”. The song tells the story of a woman who glows and feels like life is complete after she meets this amazing man. Soon though, the glow begins to fade. He’s not who she thought he was. The relationship is not going in the direction she thought it would. The Boyz tell her she doesn’t have to stay. “You’ll end up killing all the love you have inside.”
A few months ago I was making a left onto Peachtree. As I started the turn, I noticed a woman in the passenger seat of a Range Rover at the light. Her pink skin had grown pale, her appearance withdrawn and sad. I looked away. As I finished up the turn, I glanced in her direction again and saw the car’s driver, a man who looked to be a few years her junior and twice her size, punch her in the face. He punched her.
The light changed. They continued driving.
“Oh, my God. Okay. Okay. Pull over. No, you’re in the middle of the street. Okay, make a U-turn and follow them. What’s in the trunk? All I have is a screw driver. He could beat me up too. License plate? If I get the plate, maybe I can report it. Crap. They’re already gone.”
That was it.
I did manage to report a domestic violence incident a year ago. I was trying to sleep but there was a lot of commotion outside. I heard arguing and car doors slamming. I sat up in bed, looked out the window and saw a male figure pushing a woman to the ground. He was holding her by the neck and she was whimpering. I ran to find my glasses to get a clearer view, but when I hit the light switch, it alerted the batterer and he hopped into the passenger side of a waiting vehicle and sped away.
I ran downstairs. There was litter everywhere. Clothes. Pictures. Condoms. Even a license plate. I knocked on my neighbor’s door to see if she was okay. (I had my screw driver in my hand.) She never answered.
I ran back up to my apartment, waited ten minutes, and then called the police. When they arrived, they told me that it wasn’t the first time there had been an incident with the couple downstairs. They asked, “Was he Asian?” I couldn’t tell for sure because I did not have my glasses on when I saw him. They banged on my neighbor’s door. When she answered, one officer proceeded to yell at her. “WHERE DID HE GO? WHERE IS HE? YOU TWO ARE GOING TO JAIL! YOU’RE DISTURBING PEOPLE! CLEAN THIS SHIT UP!”
I regretted calling the police. A month later, the couple moved.
I know there had to have been a time when both women had a glow, a glow of love and hope. When it began to dim, did anybody notice? Did anybody tell them that it was okay to leave? That there were better things in store if they did? What was keeping them there? I once heard a pastor say that women love to a fault. Was that it? Love?
I want to wrap this up neatly. I want to make some grand conclusion. But I can’t. Domestic violence is real. It’s not Hollywood. It’s not neat and fairy-tale like. It’s real people. Real messy situations. I just have to be armed for the next time I encounter it. A screw driver isn’t going to cut it.
If you or someone you know needs help, please see the resource below. From the #COOLIKANS. With love.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
by Obehi Janice
I used to hate the sun. Specifically, the way it streamed through my window blinds on a Friday morning. The color that hit my floor, desk, and face would always accompany the fervent sounds of a bustling college campus and the combination of color and life would sadden me. It was like my senses would be on overload, all of my atoms hitting one another and making my body to shake and shiver. I would only leave the dank sweat of my comforter to leave my bed, steady the heels of my feet to glimpse outside the window, and close those damn shutters.
Depression bit me like a snake.
When people ask me, “What did it feel like?” I always tell them, “It felt like I was consistently blacking out.” I should research how fast venom works but all I can think of is how a victim resorts to closing their eyes and seeing darkness from their shut eyelids to quell the pain.
That was depression for me.
The spell lasted for about five years. The worst was the fourth year. My senior year of college, my modus operandi involved skipping classes, avoiding calls from my Mother, crying in bed, hiding under my covers, and hitting repeat on all these actions over and over again. I was afraid of spending time alone, though. So when I wasn’t doing that, I was publicly happy. I was jovial and supportive to my fellow classmates, and outspoken in class and extracurriculars. But the only engine working in my body was a cruise control that simply shuffled my feet from this location to that, grinding the gears of my jaw to smile at this face and that.
I hated the sun.
Days before my 21st birthday, the shakes came on like an attack.
It was a gorgeous November day and I mean gorgeous. The campus was buzzing with pre-election day jitters and it was a good week to be Black and Democrat. The energy was palpable and unavoidable. A nervous joy, you know?
But where was I five days before Election Day?
On the carpeted floor of my single capacity dorm room, grabbing one of the legs of my bed frame, and crying out to God.
What is wrong with me
My head hurts so bad
I feel so fucking ugly
Why did you make me like this
What the HELL is wrong with me
God, please Lord, help me
I hadn’t showered in two days and I hadn’t eaten in four.
I remember thinking: if I just figure out how to do it, then my head will stop hurting.
I remember thinking: it’s best I don’t live anymore.
My cellphone was on my bed and I quickly called a friend of mine. She came to my door and she stood outside my room begging me to let her in. It took a good fifteen minutes before she entered and begged me to call my Mom.
In two days, I was on a Southwest flight home to Lowell and before I knew it, it was election night.
While my classmates stormed the White House after Obama’s victory, I was in and out of delirium, sweating beneath my Mother’s covers, watching Anderson Cooper’s silver fox hair swing left to right in enthusiasm. I was so pissed off that I had pushed myself to this level of despair, so frustrated that I could never say, “I celebrated Obama’s victory.”
The next day I flew back to school in D.C. and put on my act again. I joined a celebratory rally in the center of campus with other Black students. I wore black clothing in solidarity and even spoke off the cuff about how proud I was to be a Black woman in this time. It’s hard to remember if I was lying or not.
Feigning happiness was my greatest acting role to date.
I eventually prayed and cried my way into a therapist’s office, was diagnosed with clinical depression, and started taking Celexa.
And it helped. (How exactly will be explored in a future post.)
On July 9, The Washington Post published an article titled “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness”. I scoured the entirety of the piece, just happy that I could identify with these women in the article. There was this interesting emphasis on the “strong Black woman” stereotype and the inability for traditional Black churches to accept the need for medication and therapy. I just read the article thinking, “I’m one of them.”
But when I read articles like these I also feel embarrassed that I suffered from a disease.
Is depression really a disease? Am I just bat-sh#! crazy?
One thing I’ve learned is that God speaks through doctors and He blesses people with the capacity to create medicine to HELP. To heal.
I still suffer from anxiety. Depression set off little traumas in my being that peek through at least once a day. Being in my twenties, single, the eldest daughter, and an artist, I keep my heart busy with preoccupations. The main engine of the anxiety is worth. “Am I enough?” Indeed. And because God lives and Jesus reigns, I have more than enough. I keep a homemade poster of Philippians 4:6-8, what I call a “cliche verse” near my bed to remind me that I can’t do this alone.
Three years after my last major episode, I live in a bedroom with an unusual amount of sunlight. My neighborhood is noisy and full of life. I wake up from my covers not sweating, but expectant. I call my Mother, I pray to my Heavenly Father, I sing and dance a little. I ward away the depression bit by bit.
And I’m sort of obsessed with the sun now.
It streams in, wakes me up, and invites me to leave my bed to start the day.
Obehi is the creator/performer of the one-woman show “FUFU & OREOS”, a play about her personal experience with clinical depression and self-identity. It’s currently running in The Berkshire Fringe Festival through August 4.
Last month (July) was National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Raise awareness, lift each other up in prayer, and take action.
by Elise Lockamy
“Canaan, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Without hesitation, he stood up gleefully and shouted, “I am going to be President of the United States!”
In this post-acquittal era of the George Zimmerman trial and the wrongful death of our martyred son Trayvon Martin, I’d be just as delighted if my elementary school-aged cousin had said, “Alive. I want to be alive.”
Here’s what I can’t swallow, or seem to be able to have non-Black peers acknowledge, and that’s that if Trayvon was White, he would be alive today. Zimmerman found him suspicious because he was a young Black male walking around the neighborhood, fitting the same profile of a former neighborhood burglar. That other guy – Black. Trayvon – Black. Trayvon – dead. Killer – free. I weep.
Trayvon’s unidentified body lay in a morgue for hours. He was just another one of “them”. Another Black male profiled and deemed unworthy of life. I weep.
Trayvon Benjamin Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012.
I maintain that he died on February 5, 1995, the day of his birth, the day he was born a Black Boy in America.
I sat in the congregation, afro in full force, as the Black missionary from Cameroon relayed all the wonderful things the church was up to. There were healings and trips to heaven. Ministry students were powerfully walking in their spiritual gifts. The school was becoming the equipping ground for nation-changers. The missionary acknowledged the congregants who monetarily supported the ministry and thanked the rest of us for our spiritual support. She told anecdotes of her cultural re-adaptations to the United States. She went on to mention that she was appalled by the music and television shows she saw on VH1. And then my sister, this sister with beautiful dreadlocked hair who had captured the ears of the mostly White congregation said, “Hip-Hop is killing this generation.” I cringed as most in the audience nodded and clapped in agreement. I still cringe.
Art, in its unmodified form, is an outward expression of the meditations of the inner-man. Worshippers know that when Kim Walker-Smith or Richard Smallwood begin to use their instruments (vocal and otherwise) to exact adoration to the Father that it’s coming from a rich soul, and anointed with the Father’s presence that’s able to transcend time, space, and mode of hearing. See it’s coming from the spirit. When I listen to Hip-Hop, sometimes filled with meditations of bigotry, sexism, self-hatred, pain of the fatherless, and a dearth of hope, I know it’s coming from a broken spirit, a lost inner-man.
Hip-Hop is not killing this generation. A lack of identity, value, and self-worth, rooted in the Father, is killing this generation. We #Coolikans like to say that somebody lied to us. Well somebody not only lied to our brothers, he or she stopped speaking to them altogether.
Ponder this – if people only paid attention to you when you achieved on the basketball court or the football field (and pushed your body to its physical limits in the process), wouldn’t you too only see value in another’s body? I am not surprised that many songs feature the sexualized female form.
Ponder this – if the only opportunity you had to engage society’s influencers occurred when you had as much money as they did, wouldn’t you too want to equate your worth with your earnings and flaunt what you have? I am not surprised at the stronghold of materialism that is heard throughout popular music today.
Ponder this – if your father never came home and you never saw an engagement of fraternal love (between him and his intimate circle), wouldn’t it also be easy for you to slander a brother in a song? I see how easy it is for some songs to drudge up imagery of murdering another person.
I have to ask – what have we (women, fathers, the education system, the jails, the ghettos, society-at-large, and dare I say the church) been telling our Black boys about themselves that drives them to the continued oppression of themselves and those around them?
Hip-Hop is not killing this generation.
A couple days after the verdict was announced, a radio personality challenged listeners to call in and share what they will now tell their sons as a result of the tragic death of a beloved son and the acquittal of his killer.
A fierce mother called in. She was angry. She was hurting. She told that she will now tell her son that he is a member of an endangered species with a target on his back, viewed as a threat by all who manage or bother to see him.
You don’t wear a target. You wear a crown. The Father says that you are kings. Don’t look in the mirror and see a reflection of a workhorse, a mere athlete or entertainer, or a slave. See a reflection of a Son of God, worthy of the calling of leader and lover. For generations, your power, gifts, and talents have been feared. I do not fear you. I celebrate you. Deaden your ears to the evil whispers of those who envy you and want to see your demise. Awaken to the promise of abundant living and the esteem of a Father who sees incredible value in you. Charge into Fatherhood and take back your families. Charge into the boardroom and rip the price tag off your back. Take it all back and stand firm. He, the glorious Father, is with you.
The songs of life (not fear and death) that will be sung, once the truth about His sons is revealed and celebrated, will shake the Heavens and draw us so close to the presence of God that we’ll be able to smell his fragrance. That’s where Trayvon is, in His presence. That’s where we all belong.
By Elise Lockamy
Dedicated to the single Christians out there, and those yearning for more intimacy with the Father
We had spent many nights Skyping and talking on the phone but still no clarity. I was disappointed when I asked him to let me know where this was going and he said that he just wanted to be friends. I woke up later that night telling myself to cry, to just let it out. As I stood on my balcony, the tears did not come. The only thing I felt was relief.
A week prior to confronting my “friend”, I watched a sermon series by Andy Stanley entitled “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating”. In the final part, Andy encouraged listeners to take a year off from dating to “become the person you’re looking for is looking for”. So the day after my balcony moment, I started my year off. The year is currently in progress. Here are a few vignettes that I hope you can relate to. I must admit, this year is becoming less about transforming into wife-material and more about intimacy with God. Welcome to my journey.
The Kite Story
“Daddy, is this a set-up?” My friends and I had reached the top of Stone Mountain in Georgia. There were kites flying way up high. It suddenly occurred to me that I had never flown a kite before. Sarah said that I should put it on my list of things to do during my year off. Yes! The very next day, my coworker, who was moving to a new city, was downsizing from her trunk. She handed me a pair of shoes and (coincidentally) three kites!
I realized that God was not only concerned with my “ministry-centered” development but also with my fun adventures. Maybe I did miss tithe payments and did not volunteer to help out with children’s ministry when I was definitely available. Maybe I did not spend enough time reading the Word last week. Yet, he did not hide from me. He showed up in a happy coincidence that spoke to my nerdy heart. The kites were better than flowers on Valentine’s Day. He heard and he responded. And not just with one kite but with three. Talk about abundance! (John 10:10)
“Daddy, I hurt.” I was lying down on my living room floor with my eyes closed and arms straight up in the air. In my mind, I was sitting in God’s lap. We were chest to chest so that our hearts were near each other. I imagined hearing his heart beat in sync with mine. I began to whisper in his ear. I told him that I was disappointed that my parents divorced. I revealed my fear that I would never get married. It seemed that no Christian man would ever take the time to get to know me, want to have fun (rollercoasters and mini-golf), and initiate righteousness in a relationship. Sigh. I told him that I had no idea what my next career move would be or how I would ever finish paying back my student loans. I told him that I wanted to live free and be whole. I told him that I loved him with my whole heart and that I would never stop chasing him.
He told me that I was his. And that his thoughts towards me were those of peace, love, and prosperity. I learned that I was a woman of joy and that my gifts included teaching and healing. He told me that I was not lost in the crowd but that he has had his eye on me since I was in the womb. I actually caught a glimpse of him looking down at me when I was a little girl with big hair puffs. He told me that when I was lonely, there was a place for me in heaven to come and play.
Since then, I have imagined walking down the beach with Jesus, enjoying a swing in a park with God, and sitting atop the Great Sphinx of Giza with Jesus in a beach chair beside me. My imagination led me right into fellowship with God. (And let me tell you this, the more I use it for intimacy with the Father, the less room there is to entertain past regrets and sexual fantasy.)
This Is On Purpose
“Lord, I want to have sex!” I am in my mid-twenties, and yes I am a virgin. Some out there may be applauding. But seriously, hormones do not dissipate, no matter how hard I try to pray them away. How can I wait? How come nobody wants to have sex with me? What is wrong with me? Elise, this is on purpose. Huh Lord? I had come close to having sex once. I was in grad school and in the throes of one of the lowest points of my life. I said no and then for weeks thereafter, I could barely look myself in the mirror. I was ashamed of the woman who had come so close to giving her body away, disobeying the edict to honor God with her body (1 Corinthians 6: 18-20). In my recovery period, a friend I confided in said she was proud that in the moment I was sensitive to the grieving of the Holy Spirit. Hmmmm. So why does God not want me to enjoy what everyone else (siblings, godparents, friends, media) thinks I should be doing at least once a day?
He told me that he wants me in this condition in order to accomplish what he wants me to do. My virginity is not a default. It is on purpose. I now believe that the outpouring of my gifts and talents would not be possible if I had joined myself to another through sex. Even in the context of marriage, my priorities would be different and probably would not include sitting down to write an essay about my experiences (for instance). This is on purpose. My whole being is on purpose. And guess what, I like it. I like being available to Daddy and sharing his truth with others. Thank you for my virginity!
As God showed me purpose, I experienced healing from the shame I was carrying around. I suddenly remembered a line from a sermon I heard. The speaker said that “with God’s restoration, even a prostitute can reclaim her virginity”. Whoa! I envisioned myself weighted down by a heavy coat. It was shame and embarrassment. God took the coat off, and replaced it with a glowing white cloak of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). And as he made the exchange, I was no longer weighted down but rather floating in front of him. My pink princess crown was intact. I can start again.
In The End…
There is so much more to tell. But I am sure your own journey will bring much revelation. So go fly a kite… and hike a mountain, and forgive those who have hurt you. Explore the depths of Daddy’s love through quiet time. Use your imagination to sit right in his presence and let him lavish you with healing and spiritual gifts. Allow God to break things off of your heart. Ask him about your identity. Let him reveal to you the secrets related to your purpose. Observe nature and people, and listen intently for the Holy Spirit to share valuable insights. Get to know him as Father, Friend, and Lover. Rest. Play. Love-bathe. Enjoy this romance that you and Daddy are invested in.
As you delight in your fulfilling romance with God, you will begin to trust him with the desires of heart. You will trust that he will bring you and your partner together in his time. And you will know the contentment that Paul describes (Philippians 4: 11-12) – and dare I say happiness and joy too – as you wait. Make a move toward his heart. It is accessible and he does not disappoint.
“Go Fly a Kite” was originally published on December 4, 2012 in Warrior Lessons.