Monthly Archives: July 2016

Uncross Your Arms

Uncross Your Arms

Written by Joy Brownlee

Jerome & Joy Brownlee JR Family

Jerome & Joy Brownlee JR Family

I cannot sleep tonight.

My baby is sleeping peacefully. 

Sleeping Child Photo

She has no idea about the Black Man who was shot and killed while buckled in his car, with his fiance beside him, and a child in the back seat. Tonight my baby sleeps in peace.

She has no idea about the serving Police Officers who were shot and killed at a peaceful protest, and the families and children they will never get to come home to. Or the racial tensions that mount daily, not just here but around the world. Today, my baby sleeps in peace.

My child is a toddler. Not long ago she was happily climbing up the ladder of a playground slide only to be pushed off the structure and told she could not slide down because she was a **racist word**. At age 3. Immediately- She knew that she was wronged. She didn’t know what the word meant. She didn’t know what the implications of structural racism were. But she knew she was being treated differently, and she felt the pain of those actions deeply.

“They wouldn’t like that!!”- she cried.

“They wouldn’t want me to do it to them!!”

– she sputtered through burning tears and

tightly crossed arms.

I wiped the dirt from her cheeks … and fought back my own tears … as I dried hers …  I will never forget the anger broiling up from inside of her. Before the burning emotion could consume her – I asked her to please –  

“Uncross your arms.”

I told her,

“Your heart is the most powerful weapon you have.

When we cross our arms in anger, it covers up our hearts. It covers up our ability to change the world.

It suffocates our hope to not become exactly like the ones who have hurt us so deeply.”

Tonight, like many nights, I am awake- talking, crying, praying, with my Husband over the condition of our world- and what we can do about it- while our toddler sleeps in peace. 

But soon, far too soon, she will be violently thrust out of her innocent chrysalis of dreams and forced to fly into the raging winds of racism herself.

I process life by writing.

So, through my own burning tears, tonight I wrote my children this letter:Little Girl (2)

“Beautiful Souls,

Our world is in need of desperate change. There is SO MUCH we need to do socially, educationally, economically, politically ~ to even begin to make the world a place of equality and true freedom. You were placed into this world for a Purpose. The world needs your Voice to speak out words of Truth, Power, Beauty, and Love. The world needs your Hands to raise as Witnesses to the much needed fight for equality, liberty, and justice. The world needs your Mind – the Scepter which opens vaults of ignorance and Liberates those from the dark corners of injustice.

I cannot promise you that this world you were born into will become fair, just, or safe, in time for you to navigate through it without peril. But I can promise you that with every breath in me, I will work towards making this world a better place for you. That process must start and end with love, or we will lose the purpose of the fight. 

Through tears of pain, soon you will learn – in history and in present day – there is racism far worse than getting pushed off the slide at age 3 and being called a **racist word**.  Before I go to sleep tonight, before you wake up from your innocent slumber, this is what I want you to hear:

Uncross your arms.

When the howling winds of hatred, violence, bigotry and despair- string your emotions up like a kite whose frame is being tossed and shredded in the branches of a churning weeping tree –

Uncross your arms.

When the unsuspecting accost of your faith is attempted at the cost of your innocence –

Uncross your arms.

Though every fiber in your being wants to lash out in anger and hurl every weapon you can imagine violently back into the wind- let go of the weapons you frantically seek –

Uncross your arms.

When screams of pain turn into a blanket of unforgiving destruction and you are tempted to wrap its cloth around your shoulders and bury your head in its lying fabric of social defeat –

Uncross your arms.

When your innocent dark hands clench the cord of depression so tightly to your chest for the pain of those who’ve gone before you and the pain of those entangled right now with you- I’m begging you- though it’s your last ounce of strength that makes this choice 

Uncross your arms.

You, my Beautiful Souls,

were created for Illumination not ruination. 

As you grow, as you navigate your wings through the treacherous flight in this world, as you are faced with the option to absorb and hurl back the despicable ignorance and hatred that may be thrust upon you, I will remind you of your own words said from your heart as an innocent child ~ 

“They wouldn’t like that Mom.”
“They wouldn’t want me to do it to them.”

There are so many battles on this Earth that you will face. 

In order to truly win,

You must never let someone else’s act of hatred

cause you to cover up

Your Loving Heart.

To change this world, you must

~ Uncross your Arms ~ 

Love, Mom 

Uncross Your Arms

Photography Credit: Randoan Tanvir

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only LOVE can do that.” – Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”-  Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

Current Events Referenced:
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