I Am Resolved.

Happy (almost) 2018, Free Agents! Congratulations on having endured 2017. I hope you found spaces to thrive and to develop into the person you are called to be. As we head into a new calendar year, we often reflect on the past year. We celebrate the things that went well, and we critique the things that went less than well. We often anticipate the coming year as an opportunity to resolve to do a new thing that will help us to better grow into the people we desire to be or to become.

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Advent: Are You Ready for It?

This season reminds me that I am not alone so long as I keep the lights of hope, love, joy, peace, and Jesus Christ alive in me always. The fact that we receive this season each year is a spiritual discipline for me because it teaches me that I need to be in constant preparation for the coming of the Light of the World. Over the next few weeks as we prepare for the Christ Child I will share some posts about what I am ready to see in the world with the help of the lights of hope, love, joy, and peace.

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But Is It Really "Me Too?"

No doubt many of you have followed the “me too” hashtag that went viral this past week on multiple social media platforms. The call came via a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano (more on that in a moment). The prompt went something like “If every woman who was sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” So, women of all races, sexual orientations, and ages share those two simple but revealing words, “Me Too.”

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A Time for Miracles

I've always been just okay. But, as I sit and write these words, I feel my skin becoming inflamed and a tension in the center of my gut. I know to listen to what my body tells me, and what my body is telling me is that I am letting fear get the best of me. I am afraid of what comes next. But, I hear the refrain of angelic visitors throughout the Scriptures, "Do not be afraid." 

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Finding Hope Amidst Bigotry

I lived for most of my childhood in Northern Virginia. I always heard stories about the blatant racism on the campuses of the boarding schools and universities in the Southern part of the state. That violence was on display last night in Charlottesville, Virginia. When it was time for college, I tried to escape to schools in the north, but the truth is, white supremacy knows no geographical location. On the campus of my idyllic women’s college in southern Massachusetts, I knew women who so feared my black body that they refused to speak to me or look me in the eye. As a minister, I have endured home visits monopolized by racist and sexist language. My fellow Christians have made every attempt to diminish the value of my life because I am a young black woman. I stand in solidarity with the clergy gathered this weekend in Charlottesville, united in faith that despite the hate and fear that have characterized American life from its inception as a nation, the love of God overcomes all.

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A Free Woman: One Year Blog Anniversary

 Hey, Free Agents! Let's party! Today is the one-year anniversary of this blog! Thank you for your support. For those who are new to the site, here at iamfreeagent.com, we pull upon the resources of history, African American Studies, Religion, womanist, and feminist thought to critically evaluate our past, present, and future. The goal of each post is to provide you with the tools you need to creatively resist whatever systems of oppression you might face in your life.

 

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"I AM NOT YOUR STEREOTYPE": Combating the Death-Dealing Stereotypes Ascribed to Black Women and Girls

This post supports the “I Am Not Your Stereotype” fundraiser by Positive Traction Inc. The campaign is a reminder of the damage done by negative stereotypes. By wearing the shirt, you pledge to pursue greatness on your terms, regardless of what the world’s stereotypes say you have the potential to achieve. The proceeds support after school programs and summer enrichment activities. Follow the link in this post to donate or buy a shirt. 

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What Does This Represent? Race, Gender, and “Diversity” on The Bachelorette (Eps 1-4)

Hey, Free Agents! I hope you are having a great summer so far. Today, I must talk about episodes 1-4 of Season 13 of ABC’s The Bachelorette. This season features 31-year-old Dallas attorney, Rachel Lindsay. Lindsay is the first black lead in the history of the franchise. There have been 33 combined seasons of the show. Check out what Roxane Gay had to say about the show after Episode 1. About a month ago when the season began, I wrote about Lindsay’s upcoming season. Now, four episodes in, I am interested in the story the show is telling about black women’s romantic lives. In regards to dating, our representative to white America has become, for better or for worse, Rachel Lindsay.

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A New Kind of Study: Early Summer Meditations

Most of us make resolutions at the end of the year, but when the weather is warmer and the days are longer, I feel most inspired to transform my life. During the summer, I pick one aspect of my life that I want to improve, and I put all my energy into it. Last year, it was “fit Mondays.” I made my Mondays all about making wise health decisions from the inside out. Beginning my weeks by being conscious led me to feel healthier and happier and to make healthier decisions throughout the week. This summer I resolve to become a better student of the world around me.

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Dark Skin in Ivory Towers

Wellesley is an elite women’s college located about fifteen miles south of Boston, Massachusetts. I love the campus (the pollen, not so much). The school has a powerful mission to train women who have a commitment “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” The words are inscribed on the seal in Latin "Non ministrari, sed ministrare." The undergraduates at Wellesley are women who will make a difference in the world, and alumnae of Wellesley are making a difference in the world. In a world where women’s bodies and minds are under siege, I am passionate about supporting Wellesley (and other hubs of women’s education) that cultivate intellect and courage in women. Now, here’s the problem. My alma mater has set lofty goals, and time and time again we miss the mark.

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Rediscovering My First Call: A Word for “Busy” Women Called to Change the World

Female leaders are especially prone to fall into the trap of making busyness our spirituality. We have convinced ourselves that we have something to prove, and we are proving our point. We are cracking the glass ceilings that we were told women never could or would, but at what expense?

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How Do You Get Somebody to Love You?

I have argued on this blog that unmarried black women are, and have historically been, shapers of American religious, social, and political life and that our contributions to American life must be honored and remembered. What I have not said here in the past is that being an unmarried woman is not always easy and that many women who remain unmarried after being widowed or divorced, or never marry at all, would love to be married. Shows like The Bachelor make that quite clear as women put hard-earned careers on hold to chase after one man who, historically, rarely marries any of them

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Family Secrets: The Truths We Will Not Speak

Hey, Free Agents! This week, I continue to consider the themes that emerge when reading Toni Morrison’s 1970 novel, The Bluest Eye. This post examines the generational curse of family secrets. In this season in which we celebrate mothers and fathers, we grapple with the burdens the sins of our parents have placed on us.

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What Problems Can Pretty Eyes Solve?

As I pointed to in my previous post on beauty, white supremacist beauty standards are the norm in much of the Western world. In this post, I expound on the issue of beauty using as my conversation partner The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I am going to focus on the blue eye aspect of the book today, in future posts, I will talk about the themes of family, fear, and love that arise in it. 

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Black Skin, Light Eyes, Straight Hair

Who set the standards for physical beauty? I know that physical beauty seems to be a superficial topic, but it is a topic that has real import in the lives of so many people all over the world. Our perception of the physical beauty of others impacts our treatment of them and it even causes us to judge what they have the potential to do, become, or to be in loving and affirming relationships with during their lives. In much of the Western world, the beauty standard for women has long been light skin, slender bodies, light eyes, and straight hair. Of course, there are permitted variations on that standard, but most women who society calls beautiful meet at least two of the requirements most of the time. The standard is hard, nearly impossible for black women—especially darker black women to meet, and although we have no control over the bodies or skin we’re in, society looks down on women who cannot or choose not to meet the standard.

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The Death of Respectability

   Respectability is killing people of color. Respectability is killing women of color. Respectability is killing queer people of color. Respectability is killing disabled people of color. Respectability is killing poor people of color. And the way we suffer to conform to the image of someone or something we will never be is not, and never will be, redemptive.

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The Respectable Black Woman at Work

Both men and women of color experience racial hostility in the workplace. So, many black and brown men will probably relate to much of what I will say in the forthcoming paragraphs. I hope that men of color will confidently share your experiences in the workplace after you read this post! However, women of color suffer a double portion of that hostility because of our race and gender.

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Purity Culture & Respectability

Today, I continue my Respectability Politics series. As I named in my original post on this topic, respectability politics demands of socially marginalized people that we behave in ways that provide evidence to the dominant culture that we are not the stereotypes they have of us. Respectability politics doubly and triply calls upon those who might have multiple intersecting identities that place them at the margins of society to find ways to conform.

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