Black is beautiful. And no one can tell me any different.
When I was growing up, I never saw race as a differentiating factor between me and the girl I sat next to in class. We were never taught that we were different, and as a result, I never really fully understood the cultural barriers until I started high school in a new country. My siblings and I were bullied, our house was egged and kids our age followed us in hordes as we walked home from school. Venturing out without a grown-up was never something we did because we were scared of being on the receiving end of such hatred. We were kids ourselves and we didn't understand why they weren't nice to us. We were new to the country that we would later call "home" for over six years; but while we didn't know anything outside of what we had been taught back home in Zimbabwe; we learned fast.
Being exposed to racism showed us that the life we had grown up watching on our satellite dishes (cable), and in the movies were just all part of a fantasy that so many longed for, but would never see or experience because of hatred and negativity. Life was tough for us, but as we grew and learned, we were able to meet people who didn't ask if we "lived in huts" or had "lions for pets" because we were black and had gotten off a plane from Africa to try our luck at "the dream". My favourite to date though is, "Why is your English so good?" LOL. That one though is a doozy, but I can't help but smile and answer with the best manners I was taught from a very young age. Ignorance can be bliss, but in this day and age, in a world where a child under the age of ten (10) owns a cellphone...come one now! There is no room for such silliness!
Growing up in Scotland and Canada has given me the chance to witness so many different cultures interact on a daily. And while life has been an amazing roller-coaster, it has also been an eye-opening opportunity because despite how great some moments can be, being witness to some of the heinous crimes involving black people is maddening and hurtful. While death, drugs and crime riddles the lives of many black men and women, sometimes it is hard to showcase the good that isn't a stereotype of what being "black" is as defined by society.
"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Being born into a Catholic family gave me the chance to grow up in a family of Faith and with the knowledge of God, The Father. Baptism marked my welcoming ceremony into a great family - Christianity. Communion signified my acceptance to receive the blood and body of Jesus Christ, upon his sacrifice for me, and Confirmation denoted my further commitment and deeper connection to my Faith. Without mentioning Penance/Confession, as it is part of the six sacraments I can receive (as a woman), having been brought up in a religious family has given me the chance to know my Faith and connect with others on a different platform. As an adult, I have been exposed to other facets of my faith, and while not necessarily following the path of a Catholic, I have still grown in my Faith. As a member of Coastal Church, I have had the great opportunity to deepen my understanding of my Faith through their courses and teachings, and understand The Bible in a way that applies to my life on a daily. Being a member of the Coastal congregation has shed light on different aspects of my Faith - my strengths and weaknesses - and I can only attest to what I have learned so far, and that is, no matter hw conflicted my spirit may be, reading The Bible, and listening to the teachings of Pastor Dave and Pastor Cheryl, while also knowing my God and all he is capable of (what he has done, and all he promised to do, which we need to remind him of), I have come to know myself better. And when I say conflicted, I mean all the chaos that I face on a daily - all the noise that doesn't align with my spirit, and everything that goes against what I believe in. Through the understanding of myself through Faith, I have been able to gain wisdom and a sense of peace in all things chaotic - life. During this time of Lent, in preparation of Easter (which is not all bunnies, and chocolate), but a time of repentance and growth, I have taken the time to get in touch more with my Faith and connect with others as we walk through the next 31 days since the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Being in church on Ash Wednesday, and receiving my mark of mortality (in the sign of a cross) reminded me of the importance of life - now - and just how precious this gift is. While the ashes remind us of our mortality and sin, the cross reminds us of Jesus' resurrection (life after death) and forgiveness. It's a powerful way we experience God's forgiveness and renewal as we return to Jesus. Lent is the time where we observe a period of spiritual discipline while fasting or attending confession in to be closer to God, and reflect on our inner selves, as Jesus did. What did I give up? Meat. I consume so much that taking it out of my diet was hard, and over the course of he next few weeks, I hope through my sacrifice, I can better understand - even by a small portion - what Jesus Christ experienced.