My life feels like a constant contradiction. Ivory tower by day, Newark, New Jersey by night. Fearless leader to some, yet anxious helicopter mother in the next moment. Faith-filled proclamations in the morning, only to have the news present an alternative reality by noon. I am no stranger to this. My life has been a constant tug of war between grieving vs. celebrating, faith vs. my daily struggles for quite some time now.
Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? - Isaiah 53:1 NLT
As a black, Christian, middle-class (debatable), highly educated first-generation college student, first-generation immigrant, mother of a black boy with special needs, I have no choice but to grieve and simultaneously fight on a daily basis. I know, because I watched my mother do it for years as she fought public school systems to give my brother the education and services he was legally entitled to, often risking being labeled "that mom". I know, because as a Political Science and Africana Studies double major, history has taught me that when economic and health crises hit the United States, it is the underserved, oppressed, and disenfranchised who suffer the most. Communities of color (yes, even the Christian ones) will be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and now, nationwide protests and rioting. As we saw with riots in Detroit, Newark, and even Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, poor people of color are last to get a helping hand when all is said and done. As I write this blog post sitting in the living room of my Newark home, the South Ward is still trying to recover from the economic impact of Newark riots.
Compared to 8 percent of white residents, 25 percent and 19 percent of Latino and black New Yorkers, respectively, live below the federal poverty level, some in substandard living conditions. During this outbreak, people of color make up 75 percent of New York City’s frontline workers.
Yet I must say, never in my life have I been more grateful to live in a city with a black mayor (Ras Baraka) who gets it. A black mayor who understands what it means to grieve, pray, and fight all at the same time. A Mayor who can stand in front of his constituents, mourn the loss of black lives, affirm his community, yet mobilize them to action in one breath.
I love Jesus, I love my peace. I have also encountered seasons in my life where I had to both cry and fight. Being in the NICU with my children, facing daily micro-aggressive behaviors and comments from doctors and nurses alike — only to be treated as a threat once they realized I was educated taught me that while there is no rest for the wicked, black people in America come in as a close second. Each day, I had to choose between flipping a table or holding back so my son could get the care and attention our private insurance was paying for. Yes, the NICU taught me to cry, mourn, pray, read, document, advocate, and sometimes, downright defy poorly given professional advice all at once. This season of my life will be no different.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love you be secure." - Psalm 122:6 NIV
All of this to say, yes sis, pray. Cry. But don’t forget to fight the good fight of faith in word and deed. Support your local minority-owned business, help a neighbor find a solution to their housing crisis, point someone in the direction of a resource that can mean the difference between breakthrough and hopelessness. Speak up on behalf of struggling communities simultaneously under attack, and keep getting in your bag. That is the burden of being blessed.
Sorry, today’s post wasn’t EZ Breezy, but it was necessary. Nonetheless, "we will pursue, we will overtake, and we will recover all." - 1 Samuel 30:8
With much love and sincerity,
Satta Star, or Aunty Satta, or Big Iss, or Issata O.
-Blessed to be a Blessing