Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Soul Food

 
I can attest to the fact that God can and will use anything, anybody, everything and everybody to reach humanity for His purpose. He often uses unconventional avenues to get our attention but ultimately He will lead us back to Him.
I was recently reminded of a personal experience I had where God used something considered not too Godly to help me through a difficult time.
 
Anyone who has spent any time around me knows I am a HUGE Goodie Mob fan.  I fell in love with their Dungeon Family members Outkast first, but that good ‘ole-fashioned Soul Food stole my affection away from them.
I listened to Goodie Mob's first album Soul Food all night long everyday after school. Back in those days, they included the song lyrics inside the album cover.  I studied those lyrics like they were the gospel. I even had my mother to read them. I was so sure she would too be convinced of their greatness after she did. But parents just don’t understand. Really, she said, “I just don’t understand what y’all are so angry about.”
My oldest brother was murdered in his college apartment around the time Soul Food was released. Soul Food spoke to the very emotions that beseeched me during the agonizing days and weeks after my brother's death. I truly credit that album for getting me to the other side of through.
 
I often quote Cee-Lo Green’s verse on "I Didn’t Ask to Come” when I talk about my brother's death as well as the death of one of my good friends. The words of that song soothe me when I think about how unexpectedly and tragically they left this earth and those words offer hope on how to go on in the aftermath.
Around the release of Goodie Mob’s second album, Still Standing, I was in need of some serious inspiration so you know I couldn’t wait to get that album. I just KNEW it was going to solve all of my problems.
 
When I was in high school, I always skipped lunch so I could use my lunch money to buy CDs. The day Still Standing came out, I urged my mother to take me to Turtles to buy it. But when I entered the store, I learned that they were already sold out! I was devastated because I had to have that album that day. Eventually we found the album at a music store deep in the 'hood. I rushed home, loaded it in my boom box and waited for the magic to happen. When the album finished playing I felt nothing. “Is that it?” I thought. It didn’t satisfy the way Soul Food did.
That day God taught me several things: He doesn’t work the same way every time and most importantly, never trust in earthly things and earthly people to provide what only God can give. All those other things just don’t hit the spot.
 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"I Want to Work. . ."

 
Meet Jill. Jill is an office manager at a prestigious financial firm that’s part of a global enterprise. They have offices in America, Canada, China, Egypt, and Italy. Everyone in her office loves her sweet disposition and dedicated work ethic. She is also well-known and highly respected among her colleagues in her local office as well as their sister offices all over the world.
Two years before Jill started working at the firm, she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease. The job she had at the time proved to be too strenuous for her condition so she quickly had to find a new gig. Fortunately, her church member knew about an open position at her son-in-law’s office and persuaded him to give Jill a chance.
The financial firm was the perfect work environment for Jill; most of her office supplies were in arm’s length of her desk and all of her work assignments could be done electronically. Their office had a flexible leave policy designed with families in mind. Even though Jill was single and her condition had left her barren, she was thankful for the policy because it served her well when her condition flared.

Jill was very successful for many years at not allowing her illness to negatively impact her work. Her absences were few and even though she had bad days, she still managed to put in 8 to 10 hours a day. But gradually, Jill’s condition began to worsen and she was forced to tell her bosses. They were sympathetic and assured her they would work with her.  

 
Jill’s body could no longer handle 10 hour days so she limited them to 8 and had to use her lunch breaks for doctor appointments. Her bosses were becoming increasingly frustrated because she wasn’t as available as they were used to her being. They started giving her a hard time whenever she asked to leave early and started requesting she bring back a doctor’s excuse though she never had to do that before. She did one better, she brought them a letter from her doctor detailing her chronic condition and explaining she may need time off periodically.
One day, her immediate supervisor called her into his office.

"Jill, have a seat. How are you feeling today?"

Taking her time to gingerly sit in the chair across from her boss' desk, she replied, "Much better today, sir. Thanks for asking. I really appreciate you and the rest of the firm for being so helpful and understanding in terms of my condition."

"Jill, you know you are one of our most valued employees. We are here for you. But... your absences are becoming too frequent," her boss said as he leaned on the side of his desk."

Hesitantly Jill answered, "Yes sir, that's why I brought in the letter from my doctor. I wish I could be here more but sometimes my body doesn't want to cooperate with me," she concluded with a nervous laugh.

"This last time, you didn't even bring in a doctor's excuse," her boss added in a stern voice. What little sympathy he previously had in his tone, now gone.

"I didn't go to the doctor this time. Frankly, if I had the energy to get up and go to the doctor, I would have used that energy to come work. No need going to the doctor every time a chronic condition flares up. It's nothing the doctors can do," Jill stated tersely.

"Well maybe you need to file for disability."

Jill could not believe her ears, "I don't qualify for disability benefits. Most of the time, I can work. If the firm could just continue to work with me, my condition will not be a hardship on the company. I am still producing and executing a great work product. With all do respect, people often complain about individuals who can still work getting disability but when those individuals try to work, the employers are not willing to provide reasonable accommodations."

"Jill, I don't know how we can help you anymore. I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you go."

Damn.

Do you know any Jill's? Can you relate to her? Or, are you a supervisor that has had to make this difficult decision? Please share in the comment section below, tweet me @msasmoore, or on my facebook page.
 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

50 Years Forward, 20 Years Back?


 
Ephesians 6:12-18 NIV (1984) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND YOUR GROUND, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
 

            This year marks the 50th Anniversary of major accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, AL and across the United State of America.

             This year, the Supreme Court declared that there is no longer a need for the federal government to protect African Americans from voter discrimination in areas that have a history of doing so.
            
             This year, one of America's most beloved public figures, Paula Deen, was accused by a former Caucasian female employee of discriminating against her African American employees by making them use a separate entrance and bathroom than their non-black counterparts. 
           
            This year, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of senselessly killing Trayvon Martin, an African American 17 year old teenager, because he looked like he didn't belong in his neighborhood.
 
             I've wanted to write a post about race relations in America for sometime now but I didn't know how to put my feelings in a coherent way for my intended audience to really "hear me." I'm afraid that they really don't want to "hear me" because they are convinced racism in America is dead and want African Americans to stop bringing it up.
            
            I desperately want my Caucasian coequals to stop suggesting we forget about racially charged events that happened in the past. Why? Because they are still happening in the present- for example the killings of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Sean Bell in 2006, and James Byrd, Jr. in 1998 just to name a few. These are indications that discrimination against African Americans is still very prevalent in today's society.  
 
 
            Please stop asking us to forget when my own father- who was active in the United States Air Force at the time- was threatened in the late 60s by white men for driving a car that looked too expensive for a black man to own. I desperately want you to see why some of us  believe racism still exists. If you can't understand at least consider the possibility that because it didn't happen to you and/or people you identify with, it's hard to imagine.
 
 
             I remember when James Byrd, Jr. was lynched by dragging in Jasper, TX by three white men. I'll never forget, it was my first day at Camp Anytown, Alabama- a week-long camp designed to teach high school students how to fight bias, bigotry, and racism in their communities.  Some of the most wonderful people I know, I met through Camp Anytown. While we were cut off from the outside world, the very thing we were there to learn how to prevent had occurred. The directors felt it was important to pause from their regular programming to share this news with us.
 
             Often, I wonder that when we have open forums about race in America, are we really engaging in meaningful discourse or is our main objective to defend our positions? Is anyone actually willing to alter their position?
 
            We have five months left in 2013. How can we ensure that the rest of this year better exemplifies the triumphs America achieved in 1963? Let's remember that we are fighting against evil and not against each other as we move forward towards the 75th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. Hopefully, we won't have to have this discussion in 2038.