In 4th grade I had to do an autobiography on someone I wanted to learn more about, someone I admired greatly and I chose a man by the name of Frederick Douglass

In 6th grade I became OBSESSED with college basketball and the NBA. By the time the 8th grade Washington DC trip arrived I was fully sworn into watching every single game. Carmelo was the man and I adored Allen Iverson among many, many others. I enjoyed watching the way they played the game, worked together and had a good time. While in NYC, I spent any of the free time we were given at the NBA store or watching street performances. The money my mom gave me was spent on a red and blue silk, diamond encrusted, Philadephia written across the front, jacket. It was 90 something dollars and worth every penny.

My first "date" was when I was in middle school, with a boy from high school (ooooouh) who was black. I wore that jacket and thought I was the baddest ever (didn't even own a cell phone at this point, so comical).

And during middle school something was invented called "Truth Box" or something like that. This is at the time of aol and away messages and too many proudly embarrassing screen names. My first was: GloSsifymeX0 because it was the name of my favorite lip gloss. OH.EM.GE. It's all coming back to me. So silly we are throughout social conditioning, especially when the hormones hit. *Good luck middle schoolers!* Geez. Anyway, this "Truth Box" was a secret message portal where anyone could say whatever they wanted to you. Good, great, bad and very fucked up things, all anonymously said. In middle school? Yeah, that was a fucked up idea. Most of the messages I received were from people telling me I was a slut because I liked black guys. 

The high school I went to was mainly white and within the four years I attended, there was a very small handful of blacks. Middle school had hooked me to hip hop and r&b and by high school I was completely submerged in the soulful, flavorful rhymes put out by black artists. My girlfriends and I LOOOOVED rapping any and every Mac Dre, Andre Nickatina, Tupac song and we had no shame about it. We rolled around in our very first cars slapping Tech N9ne and Snoop Dog like these were the freest days of our lives. I loved high school. It was a damn ball.

My first serious relationship was confusing in its ups and downs of passion and anger and a reoccurring theme would come up. "You like black guys. Don't you? You do! I know you do. Go be with one then." On and on, eventually we broke up.

Then, Rock the Bells 2012 at Shoreline and yes!, I was going to be there. Low and behold the man I'd *bump* into later on that first day would be my partner of a few years now. I even had a conversation with another black guy hours before meeting Andre at the festival. I wasn't interested and didn't want to give him my number, he came on strong and I said I wasn't interested. He said "It's because I'm black isn't it? And you don't like black guys." Whatever he needed to believe so I could get to my group of friends was fine with me in that moment.

I graduated from college in Dec of 2012 and went to Ghana in January 2013. I went with a group of students for a Global Medical Brigade and worked 3 hours outside of Accra with a small community to set up a health clinic facility. I will never forget the day that the children rushed us as we got off the bus. THE JOY SPILLING, OOOOOZING FROM THEIR FACES. We danced for 3 hours, THREE HOURS!! as a celebratory measure of new guests arriving. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. That experience, the relationships I created and the Love that was celebrated was absolutely incredible.

When Andre and I started dating more seriously, his Grandmother passed away. He wanted to me to go to the funeral with him. I was nervous because I hadn't been to very many funerals and also because it was fairly early on in our relationship. The service was beautiful and as I looked around the church I realized, I was the only white person there. It was humbling and I was lucky to experience it.

To experience the family that has become one of my own from meeting Andre has changed my life. The love his mother so clearly exudes for EVERY HUMAN BEING is one that BLACK MOTHERS CARRY OFTEN. THEY WORK SO HARD AND NEVER ASK FOR WHAT THEY MIGHT GET. THEY PROVIDE LOVE AND SUPPORT WITHOUT ASKING FOR ANYTHING IN RETURN. I see this in her and in his two WONDERFUL, STRONG, RELENTLESS sisters who embraced me as a sister the moment they met me and have called me family ever since. The stories his Dad has shared with me about being in Alabama were hard for me to hear. I admire his ability to be a gentleman to this day, heart of gold. And don't get me started on Andre's Granddad. This man gifted me the bible of his sweetheart, whom I never got to meet, though celebrated at that first funeral I attended.

There are so many moments we are gifted in life to recognize as pivotal, that shifted our perspective and enhanced our very being. Enhanced our ability to give love and receive love. No matter the color on the outside, I am interested in the colors of Your inside, that come out when you allow yourself to be seen.

White people if it is hard for you to understand what people are saying when they say #BLACKLIVESMATTER it's because you haven't looked close enough at what you've been given and what has so clearly been stolen away from the many, many others living in less than and "I hope I live" todays.

Do you know what it feels like to have your friends shot dead in gun fire?
Do you know what it feels like to not want to put your first name on your resume because it might be the reason you don't get the job?

Listen to REAL soul music, turn off 94.9. Listen to the words of what they are saying. WHITE PEOPLE, LISTEN TO THE STORIES THAT BLACK PEOPLE HAVE TO SHARE. Ask what it's been like growing up for them. We all have stories and at this point in time we (WHITE PEOPLE) should be interested in saying, "How's it going on the inside for you today? It's tough out here. I will help by asking and by listening." Listen. 

It don't change truth
and your hurt feelings, no excuse
to keep me in this box
psychological locks
repressing true expression
cementing this repression
promoting mass deception
so that no on can be healed

I don't respect your system
I won't protect your system
Just get out!
Get out of all this bondage!
Just get out!

- Lauryn Hill

Are we all alone
Fighting on our own
Please give me a chance
I don't want to dance
Something's got me down
I will stand my ground
Don't just stand around
Don't just stand around

All we want to do is be free
All we want to do is take the chains off.

- J. Cole

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm gettin' older, y'all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin'
Selfishness got us followin' the wrong direction

Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema

Yo', whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we're spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity

That's the reason why sometimes I'm feelin' under
That's the reason why sometimes I'm feelin' down
There's no wonder why sometimes I'm feelin' under
Gotta keep my faith alive 'til love is found
Now ask yourself


where is the love?