Open Note to Book of Faces 4 24 20
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin.
Book of Faces: It has been awhile since I have publicly written. I have been engaged in a Great Unraveling… a time of immense and deep healing… radical self-love, transformation … falling and messing it up but getting up and doing it again … but most of all, healing. I have been engaged in the project of liberation by liberated myself from the trauma tapes and patterns which were not life-giving, life-affirming, and life-nourishing. It has been hard work and certainly not linear. And I rise and fall with grace and humility each and every day. I am grateful to have been called to a ministry of public brokenness so that I can be a vessel of healing, for myself and for my community. I have learned to live the Torchbearer’s Creed of “shadowing oneself to give light to others.” And it is my prayer, that by my honesty, authenticity, and rawness… that you will find your way to lighting the path for others as well.
Some of you may know that over the course of the last two years, I’ve lost almost everything I had. Let me be clear: I made bad decisions at times. I was broken and did not know it. I hurt people because I was hurting and did not even know the depths of my pain. Also, life was hard. In ways that are unthinkable and unimaginable.
Life led me to being wrongfully accused and incarcerated many times. It changed my life. I am blessed to have a supportive family who tirelessly fought for my freedom. Not everyone shares that blessing. Had my parents not been advocates for me or had I not had that support system, it is likely that I could have been swallowed up and invisibilized in the system. I could have been disappeared behind bars… for who knows how long. Gone.
My heart broke open behind the bars of the Baltimore County Detention Center as inmate 458296. And my life mattered to my parents who would have done anything to make sure I was free. Everyone is deserving of that same love, grace, forgiveness, and compassion.
I was there, at BCDC, to confront my brokenness, be thrust into my healing, and begin participating in the new project of liberation to which I was being called. This ministry is raw, authentic, and messy at times (but what ministry isn’t?!). There’s no rule book. No guidelines. This work is done in community because in community, we find life.
You, reading this post right now, are a reflection of my life. We are bound together in this project of healing and liberation, brokenness and Great Believing. We are bound together in the same chains that keep my sisters, your sisters, our sisters, locked behind jail cells and prison walls. We are community. My brother in liberation, Ralikh Hayes, said “The deep craving in our hearts for community is our path to liberation; the manifestation of our ancestors’ dreams.” Right now, we are faced with a pandemic, a disease of disconnection.
All of us, no matter where we are, want to be connected. This connection is the beginning of a process of liberation that has been waiting to be birthed forth for generations. And that birth is dependent upon us being midwives for our kindred who are incarcerated by the State.
I am inviting you, right now, my beloveds, to participate in the project of liberation. It is an invitation to participate in a Great Believing that knows only justice, and freedom, and liberation, and healing, and community. It is the very essence of breath that fills our lungs. It is the thing that ensures the Sun will rise after the darkest of Nights. It is the first laughter of a child. It is the wail of a mother as her son has been killed by the state. It is the clank of sallyports in the prisons. It is the last breath of patients dying in isolation. It is the breath you are taking with me now. It is life. We are fiduciaries of life in this movement. Of what is life-giving, life-affirming, and life-nourishing. You are being invited to save, protect, and give life to those who lives are in jeopardy because they are in cages. You are being invited to liberation… now.
I am attaching an Open Letter that I am sending to Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. It is a letter calling for the immediate release of prisoners in the State of Maryland. The atrocities in the system are deplorable. Like many Marylanders, I know people within the system and their lives depend on our action… all of us… in this moment.
Please, take time to read my words.
Share these words as you deem fit, for the liberation of our people… all of our people.
You must not rest tonight without having actively participated in the liberation of our people and the most vulnerable in your community. Share this post. Write a letter to your state representative. DO NOT GO IN PERSON. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Get involved with a local organization like Black Leaders Organizing for Change. Connect with the local Bailouts initiatives. Attend the Black Lives for Unitarian Universalists Babies and Bailouts event this Sunday. Sponsor a Bailout. Ask Larry Hogan to get involved in the abolition of prisoners in Maryland. Write a letter, or send an email to Larry Hogan, to ask that the current prisoners be released due to their constitutional rights and the international public health crisis: the coronavirus pandemic. Donate. Give. Write. Discuss. Please, do something. Lives literally depend on your action, today. Tonight.
But most of all, in the words of often attributed to John Wesley: Do all you can.
“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” ~ John Wesley