Thursday, July 27, 2017

Special- New FX Series

I had the opportunity to attend the DC/Baltimore screening of legendary film director, John Singleton's new FX series titled, SnowFall. Set in South Central Los Angeles in 1983, the series chronicles how the crack epidemic began. It follows Franklin Saint, played by Damson Idris, who wants freedom so bad that he has no idea of the price he pays. His freedom comes at the cost of the bondage of others. As John Singleton said during the Q&A, "Franklin wants so much to not be like his father but he ends up being a worse man than his father ever was." Franklin has been given opportunities that some of his childhood buddies, like Leon Simmons, played by Isaiah John, only wished to have.  However, to Franklin, it's not real freedom due to racial politics.  He is warned by his family about the choices he's about to make. veteran actor, Alon Moni Aboutboul, from Ridley Scott's Body of Lies, plays the Israeli expatriate who takes a chance on introducing Franklin into his business. Angela Lewis, who has played on Law & Order: SVU, plays Franklin's Aunt Louie. Amin Joseph from the new Baywatch plays Franklin's uncle, Jerome Saint. Michael Hyatt, from The Wire also stars in this "throwback drama" as Cissy Saint, Franklin's mother.

During the Q&A John Singleton stated he wrote the script to address those of us who came up during the crack epidemic to spur conversation. He also asked the question of how many people in the room had people who had been affected by the crack cocaine epidemic. Indeed, I raised my hand. We are living in a time of the opioid epidemic and prescription drug addiction but for those of us Gen X's and the Baby Boomers, we know this is dejavu. Are we still having a conversation with the generations after us about drugs and choices?

#SnowFall airs on Wednesdays at 10pm on FX.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Journey of Loss

John 11:35 Jesus Wept

Matthew 14:13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

My grief facilitator said to me that even Jesus wept over death. For those who do not think it's okay to cry, to mourn. It is okay. My grief facilitator had commented on the fact that I had endured so much loss that the process was going to be different for each. She also said that no one can tell you how long to grieve or how to do so. "Own your own grief." She said loss isn't just loss of people, it can be loss of relationships, jobs, possessions, etc. But for me, the journey of loss I thought had come to an end at the beginning of the year, has picked up again. I hurt. I am sharing this with you because twice in one week it has been said to me that my journey of loss may be because I have to share it in book form. The reality, there's more to this story than many know. I have shared with all of you about the loss of my aunt, my boyfriend and my grandmother in a period of 30 days from Mid-September to early October 2016. January  2017 I lost a cousin on the same side as my aunt. This month, my family memorialized a cousin close to my age on another side of the family while a family member on the same side laid in ICU. Within another week an old college friend, in his 40s passed of a heart attack and was laid to rest this week. I can go on but I think you get the point. There are several patterns I am seeing.

1....3 African-American males between ages 41-51 passing of treatable illnesses which were simply about lifestyle change. One was already making the change. This revelation caused me to make an announcement on my social media about the importance of African-American men taking better care of themselves because it does affect those they love. African-American families have enough to be concerned about, health is probably the easiest of controllable factors.

2. Life insurance- African-Americans have endured so much and have been so resilient in the face of trials but having life insurance is important to protect those you love who remain behind to make arrangements on your behalf.

3. No one believed me months before the collapse of a major institution. It was the one God told me to leave from because they were hurting people, young people, those I was purposed to help. When the collapse was announced, friends and family who heard me finally understood. And even the church where I worship has benefited from that collapse and has bought the building that once housed a sister campus to where I worked. God speaks, and no organization is above God's hand.

4. God has revealed to me in this process the three things that are truly important beyond this society's quest for stuff. We are to love and worship God, understand our individual purpose for being put here and carry it out and to foster the relationships we've been blessed with. To sum it up, we are to leave a legacy of love. Yes, if a person is saved and we are saved we will see them again but that doesn't negate their absence from this space in time. For the true gift each individual person gives us is the gift of their presence, nothing more, nothing less. So in this, I make a plea to you that if you do not know your purpose, please ask God to reveal it to you and then execute, do not delay. And life is too precious and short not to show genuine love and care.

5. I also weep because many years ago, when I first received salvation, I didn't understand my purpose. Outside of God who understood, guess who else did? You guessed it, the enemy. I once had a horrible nightmare which I never forgot. At the time, I was burdened with fear and perplexed because it was more prophetic in nature. I saw the children I was destined to help before understanding that my painful past was the key to helping them but was warned (sarcastically) I couldn't help them all. And the second part of the dream, there would be tremendous loss of family and friends around me on the journey long before my own passing.

This is a very painful process, and I truly understand Job's pain, questions and even how he desired to resolve the matter. I do know that I am not the same person I was when I walked into this journey. Just before the loss began, which did include stuff too but God is a restorer, i praised God for thinking I was worthy of whatever was about to come. I now know that if it wasn't for His grace, I wouldn't have made it this far into the wilderness. A woman whom I had never met before said what she saw in my spirit and was a very timely word. "God allows some people to be in the wilderness because He knows they will keep going."  I have felt that I'm not strong enough but my will to keep going is dominated by the purpose and promise I made while on my death bed 9yrs ago. So I press on. My journey of loss, prayerfully will never be your journey, but I pray that should you come to a fork in the road, you will understand the lesson and the blessing.