Today I shared a message on my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog. I had brought back to life a message that I had written on April 17, 2013. Today I added more content, more ‘meat and potatoes’ to the table. I then recorded an audio message to accompany the written one. It’s easier to ‘take it all in’ if you listen to me speak rather than read the lengthy post. Unless of course you love to read.

As I sit back and reflect on a large bulk of the message, I can’t help but to think that the things that I called on people to question, analyze, critique, and ‘check’ about ourselves and others—are the same things that have turned people away from organized religion.

The hypocrisy, lies, negativity, and toxic situations and environments that have been created by so-called religious people, are the ingredients that have grown putrid in the minds and hearts of people who see the hypocrisy, lies, negativity, and toxicity and they say, “how is that a loving religion?” and “how could God allow these people to use his name and abuse his word this way?

I can see why people slowly but surely throw their hands up and choose to not invest time and energy in a religious institution; why they have no desire to spend time in any house of faith—except for the few moments in life when called on to attend a wedding or funeral. I can see why people balk at those who proudly walk around with a religious label or title—-yet they don’t walk the walk of their God, their Messiah, their Creator.

So many of us would say that those who reject the church are blind. But I would say that with all of the darkness found in many houses of faith, those who walk away and choose to have an independent relationship with their Creator, those individuals are actually the ones who can see clearly the difference between dark and light, good and evil, lies and truth. They understand that they do not need man to have a relationship with God. They understand that they do not need man to communicate or translate to and from God on their behalf. They understand that they can ‘tithe’ through giving to charity, nonprofits, or directly to a person or family in their community.

When we put more trust, faith, honor, love, value, and respect in man than God, in the creation instead of the Creator—then we create these toxic environments, these pimping pulpit purveyors, and deceptive practices that stand opposite of the very principles, precepts, and commandments of the religion that was formed and of the God that reigns over all.

We must question, challenge, ‘check’, and call to action those individuals who claim to have been called to lead us, those who have a sworn allegiance to their Creator, and we must hold them accountable to leading through service—ensuring that they take care of first the least of those within their doors and the least of those outside of the doors where their house of faith is nestled—then they walk and lead the service of all others.

It can’t be poverty preaching that keeps us all destitute and rejecting of God’s blessings. That goes against the word as outlined in the Bible. It also can’t be prosperity preaching that tells people that everyone can be financially wealthy if they give more to the church and pray to God to take care of the rest. The Bible highlights that God expects people to work hard for what they want, and He will reward you according to your efforts. We have to plant the seeds, water and nurture them, take care of them, keep the weeds away, and then timely harvest them as we grow our crop. None of that is simple. The harvest is never an easy process. It doesn’t just happen.

There is no better way of knowing and seeing what God has for you, or is trying to share with you, than to stand still in your aloneness, to listen and be guided by what comes to you naturally. What works for one may not work for all, and we can never be sure what actually took place behind-the-scenes for the manifestation of the results that we see. I can have the same seeds as the farmer next door but for whatever reason I’m not producing a crop as big or as yummy as the farmers.

How you become wealthy may not be like anyone else. Maybe someone’s wealth came from having enough of the right relationships with people who opened doors of opportunity for them. While someone else picked the right stock or made the right investment. Maybe someone built a business or a product and later sold it. Maybe someone built their wealth from flipping houses. Each of these people take different routes, exert different levels of energy, and there is no one-size-fits-all. So it is wrong for a person, in the role of leader of a religious congregation, to sell a reality that they don’t even know to be true or right.

Maybe life is meant for some of us to live fully and richly but with less finances. Maybe excess is just that. What if many of us find greater contentment and peace in a home with two bedrooms rather than eight? If your life is full, rich and rewarding, are you not wealthy? Do you not then possess, exude, and live in abundance?

We have turned the pursuit of things as having greater importance than pursuing the immeasurable space of joy and peace. We’re constantly chasing rather than simply being. We have focused on being separate religions of separate denominations with so much division—even internally—rather than being religions of love and inclusivity. We tell people who can and can’t attend our house of faith, join our religion. What happened to welcoming everyone whose heart has been pulled to join?

We have placed greater value in the human leader than the One who created that leader. This idolatry and deification of humans in fancy robes, with special titles, with large buildings–who possess more wealth than most that follow and financially support them—is sinful and disgusting. There’s nothing wrong with becoming wealthy, being wealthy—but at the expense of your congregation, who is also not wealthy, is a sin.

When will we remove our blinders, take out the earplugs, unstrap the muzzles on our mouths—and finally see, hear, and speak the TRUTH so that we can be free, alive, and truly blessed in all ways?

Every day I strive to be a better person, servant of God, and Christian. Every day I pray to leave a positive impression on each person who meets me, reads my words, hears my voice, sees me briefly or for an extended period of time. I am flawed and I make it very clear, publicly and privately. I would rather someone embrace me because of the love and respect that I share than because of the Christian title that I attempt to carry and fall short of being each day.

Jesus taught love, acceptance, forgiveness, grace, humility, kindness, and inclusion. How many of us can say that we live our lives like this daily? How many of us can say that we attend a house of faith that lives and practices this daily? So then who do we think that we are to judge others when we can’t even measure up in our own daily walk? We must be mindful of the people that we follow. We must be mindful of the responsibility that we carry and assume when we make the decision to lead others.

I don’t know about you, but I want to enter four walls that are filled with people who preach, speak, think and practice love of all, not few—all, not some—ALL.

~Natasha

So far we have discussed the overarching ways in which we attack each other, the phenomenon of baby mama-baby daddy syndrome, and today we will roll out the fourth part that must be discussed in greater detail than I can from this medium. But at least we can get the ball rolling, so-to-speak.

I said a lot over the past three days. Hopefully none of my words injured anyone. Hopefully the tough love was felt as more love than tough. It’s difficult to peel back the layer on self, as it’s much easier to peel back the layer on someone else. When you’re hurt and angry it’s easier to point out the flaws in the other person, to point out what they did and said wrong—but it’s extremely difficult to self-reflect and “check” ourselves.

I started these conversations because it’s important that we realize that this toxic environment has been growing out-of-control for more than 60 years. The seeds were planted during slavery in the US, it grew roots after emancipation, it sprouted during the 1920s and by the 1950s we saw more and more trees forming. By the 1970s we had woods lining our nation. Now we’re in the 2000s and we have full blown forests.

The reason we must have a conversation about each other, amongst each other, is because we represent each other. No matter who we engage and interact with, we still represent the other half of this dynamic. We share cultural and social truths that are unique to our people.

The only way for others who are non-Black to understand us in whole or in part is through dialogue with and observation of us. What we say to each other, how we treat each other, is how non-Blacks learn to speak to and treat us. It’s human nature yet we’re offended when we experience it.

We have a hyper-sensitivity because of the hundreds of years of past and present abuse that we have suffered at the hands of civilian, corporate, and government oppressors.

There’s a saying that “you save your worst behavior for the one closest to you” and that is not merely the one that you are in a familial, dating or marital relationship with, but one that you share the same “roots” with. Black people have been taught, trained, molded, and brainwashed to hate ourselves and to hate other Black people.

We have been brainwashed to believe that certain skin tones, hair textures, lip sizes, body frames, eye colors, and hair lengths are better or worse than others.

The slave masters tactic of pitting light-skinned versus dark-skinned is still present today.

We’re still buying into those twisted beliefs.

The tactic of turning the Black man and woman against each other, using sex (often rape), breaking up the family (selling one of them), and other methods, is still present today.

But when will we individually and collectively say, “no more” and mean it? When will we stop subscribing to past lies masqueraded as truths? When will we stop buying into the stereotypes that were created as propaganda mechanisms to divide? When will we stop perpetuating the lies that even our elders told because they didn’t know what they didn’t know—but we now know the truth.

When will being sick and tired of being sick and tired turn into a radical change of healing, acceptance, growth, and love?

To Black Men and Women I Say…

Ladies and gentlemen, brothas and sistas, we need to cut each other some major slack. We need to heal and we need to find a place of solitude within each other to help with that healing. Or we will continue to self-destruct and the only people that will be left to blame is you and me.

Let’s take ownership for the roles that we have individually and collectively played in the slow destruction of our people, families, and relationships.

Yes, others manipulated many things.

Yes, others introduced elements of mass destruction (drugs and guns) but we made and make the decision to use these things against ourselves and against each other.

Just like on the plantation, our minds are still enslaved.

Today we pimp each other, we serve death by drugs, we take the liberty of ending each others lives through the pulling of the trigger, stabbing of a knife, stomping of a foot, punching of a fist.

We have some harsh realities that we must take ownership for…

Today, Black women are raped by Black men more than by any other ethnic group.

The vast majority of Black drug addicts get their poison from Black drug dealers.

There are more Black deaths by Black hands (and by weapons used by Black hands), than by anyone else. Before the 1950s this was not the case.

We can guesstimate the number of lives lost to the periods of slavery (including the Middle Passage) and if you compared those numbers to the death toll caused by our own efforts from the 1970s to 2018 alone (we could go back farther but we don’t need to) those numbers would be staggering.

It doesn’t negate or make light of the death toll of Black people caused by non-Blacks and law enforcement.

What I’m saying is, why are we not mortified by the lives taken by our own people?

We have gang members and drug dealers wiping out our people. We live next door to them and do and say nothing.

We must police ourselves.

We must protect our families and neighborhoods. Sometimes that means protecting them from our own family.

Mothers need to stop protecting their deviant and criminal child. If your child harmed someone they must face the punishment of their offense. Mothers should be escorting their children to the principal’s office, to the police station, etc. When you shield them you only enable the mania that is brewing and waiting to be unleashed.

Mothers, if dad isn’t around to be the rock of your family then you need to turn to the village to step into that gap. And then you must rise up with the strength and courage that God gave you and gives you, and you must declare and enforce the rules of your home. If by chance dad is available to help lead your children, don’t be a fool–don’t be that ignorant baby mama–let that man in and let him help you raise your children right.

Reclaim your family. Don’t let your child be the menace we all fear and grow to resent and hate.

We must end this ignorant belief that “I ain’t no snitch” and “snitches get stitches“.

So it’s okay for Black people to terrorize and kill us, but when someone else takes our lives then we want to protest and demand change.

Law enforcement can barely solve crimes in our communities because we refuse to cooperate with them, yet we’re quick to dial 9-1-1.

Why are we not picketing and protesting outside of the homes and buildings of drug dealers and gang members?

Honestly, we act like we have Stockholm Syndrome.

Sexism and Misogyny in Our Community

We say and do nothing about the Black women and girls who are kidnapped, raped, abused, pimped and trafficked.

Are they not valuable enough to fight for and defend?

We read and see news footage of Black male celebrities who victimize Black girls and women, and we side with the celebrity. We rationalize his actions because we’re a fan of what he does in his professional life.

Our lack of outrage is why there’s no outrage from non-Blacks. Now let’s be clear, the moment the victim is white, the outrage from non-Blacks will be never-ending. They see the value in their women and girls, even if not fully (but you can’t victimize them).

Are Black women and girls not valuable? Is that why we are not valued? We already know that society values females less than males, but we value Black females even less.

Why do we celebrate calling and being called “bitches” and “hoes”?

Men should cringe and stop any man, woman, or child who uses those words to describe a female. Women and girls should immediately stop, correct, and redirect any person who feels entitled to refer to them using those words. It’s not acceptable, by anyone—not even our friends and family.

None of my friends or family members can say “bitch” or “ho” in relation or reference to me. Not even in anger.

We need to stop this mentality of “well I will just make lemonade out of it” by taking words meant to harm and then trying to flip them to make them fit and feel right to us. That’s distorting the lemon-lemonade premise and guess what? This ain’t lemonade. It’s just lemon with a splash of water.

We do it with “nigger”. Because we say “nigga” (a switch of two letters) we have convinced ourselves that this version is better and more acceptable, but only when said by another Black person.

Okay. Okay. Okay.

Whatever coping mechanism that we want to use to take away the power of that word.

But it can’t be applied with “bitch” and “ho”.

Those are gender-specific terms that we have flipped to also apply and reference to men (which enrages men), to balance, and take the weight out of their meanings and inferences.

But women can’t then say, “we can use these words but men can’t use them“.

So that same coping skill switcheroo does not and will not ever apply. We live in a sexist world where women and girls are always only seen as receivers not doers.

If men don’t want to be called bitches and hoes then they need to stop using those words, and they need to speak up and speak out about other people using those words.

We must protect ourselves and each other, and that means that sometimes that means protecting us from us.

What Are We Going to do to Resolve This Problem?

How will we leverage these tools of destruction to be lessons of redemption? Yes, we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.

We have proven right those who enslaved our ancestors that we can be easily manipulated and controlled, we can be taught to devalue ourselves and each other, we can be extinguished as a race, we will never be united, and we are not as wise and intelligent as we profess—for if we were then we would see clearly that the shackles aren’t actually locked…

Free yourselves. Free others. Lift yourself up. Lift up others. Love yourselves. Love each other. Take off those shackles!

Stop Limiting Love to Black Love. Let People Love Who They Want!

This one may cause some anger to spew at me, but please listen with your heart.

The vast majority of Black people, especially African Americans, are affiliated with a religion that is based on and teaches love, inclusion, forgiveness, repentance, and atonement. If you are Christian, you have been raised to believe that Jesus said love everyone as you would love yourself. Jesus did not discriminate or hate.

So why are we so bitter when we see a Black man with any other woman except a Black one?

Why are Black men bitter when they see a Black woman with a man who isn’t also Black?

It’s especially true if the other person is white. Why?

The hurt and anger caused by our enslavement and by the hundreds of years of being told “you ain’t nothing”, surfaces to the top. The more than 100 years after being emancipated to earn the right to vote as a citizen, to have the right to eat and drink next to the same people whose families not-far-removed enslaved our people—those memories and that pain surfaces to the top. Knowing the history of Black men being lynched for looking at white women, speaking to white women, touching a white woman, and having sex with a white woman—even 50 years ago—those feelings surface and sting. Knowing that white slave masters raped and oftentimes impregnated Black female slaves is something that churns in the stomachs of our men.

But…

Knowing all of this does not change the fact that God, no matter what name you call Him, commanded us to love. He didn’t say “only love people of your race” or “only love people of your religion“. No, He said that we’re to love.

That Black man who is dating or married to that non-Black woman is not less of a man or less Black because of who he loves. The same is true of the Black woman. I’m so tired of hearing people spew hate, sounding like the racists that enslaved you, and making absolutely no sense.

Stop the rhetoric of “watering down our race“. Most of you don’t even know where your ancestors came from before being shipped to the US.  Most of you haven’t even taken an ethnic DNA test to see your racial makeup. All of this talk about “watering down” will have many of you shell shocked when you realize how not “pure” you are.

Some of you are walking around with so many races in your DNA that you look more like a pot of gumbo.

If Blackness is merely skin tone, then we’re all in trouble. Some of us are the same skin complexion of Latinos, Asians, and other olive and brown-skinned people. You’re ignorantly obsessing over the color of someone’s skin. You’re anti-white, yet your DNA most likely ties you to white ancestors. Some of you have issues with Mexicans and Latinos, yet some of you probably have their blood running through your veins. You have issues with Asians and don’t even know why—-but would be shocked to find even a small percentage of Asian DNA in you.

You sound just like your slave masters. You sound just like those hate mongers of the Jim Crow era. You sound just like the racists of the 1960s. You’re filled with so much hate that it is killing you and destroying our people. It’s not our “race-mixing” that is destroying us, it’s your ignorance that divides, turns away—and ultimately destroys us.

It’s all just ignorance and it goes against everything you’re taught in religion.

Love sees no color, religion, gender, race, or nationality. Love has no limits.

Love freely. Love whomever you want. Stop judging people for who they love.

I can tell you one thing, if I’m attracted to someone I’m going to get to know them—I don’t care about the color of their skin or the country where they originated. I’m going to love who loves me.

To All Humans I Say…

Let’s all be mindful of the things that we do and say, the biases we possess, the beliefs that we hold to be indisputable truths, and the stereotypes and labels that we perpetuate—and the impact that all of our words and actions have on others.

We can divide or unite. It is our choice, individually and collectively.

I can say that it has never been a time that one group of people stood strong without others supporting them in some way. Even in religious texts you can read stories of people from other tribes, religions or ethnic groups being moved and inspired to lend a hand, to provide refuge or resources for another groups freedom, safety, etc. Free yourselves. Free others. Lift yourself up. Lift up others. Love yourselves. Love each other. Take off those shackles!

What do you want to talk about next? Comment below.

Love,

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.