Uncross Your Arms

Posted on July 10, 2016

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:
 Ready to Uncross Your Arms and Make A Difference Today? JOIN US, CLICK HERE! to get information on our next Peaceful Partnership Community Event!

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Author Joy Brownlee. Written and Photography copyrights
to Joy Brownlee @ ibelieveinjoy.com for the photos bearing Joy's watermark.

19 thoughts on “Uncross Your Arms

    1. Thank you Connie for your encouragement and support. I feel completely inadequate for it most days, but I am so thankful for grace and the fact that they teach me so very much about love. Love, Joy

    1. It was a painfully powerful experience of writing that we must put feet of loving action to. Thank you for your support. Love, Joy

  1. I was brought to tears at church. Shared it with others. Brought light to me in a time of darkness in our nation. You are a fabulous mother..your children are blessed.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement. Tears poured from my face as I wrote it – literally – while I watched my kids sleep. I am thankful there are families such as yours and those around the world with Uncrossed Arms, knowing Why We Can’t Wait, and taking the strong stand of action TODAY – with LOVE.

  2. My daughter adopted 3 black children (siblings), and we are all so in love with them. They are young (7, 4, 3) but I know they will face the same things. Thank you for such a beautiful, godly way for these precious ones to deal with such atrocities. May they be the world-changers that are so needed.

  3. So beautiful Joy- hopefully a new generation will grow up with uncrossed arms and love others as themselves! What a wonderful world that would be

  4. Such an ugly subject but such beautiful words! I raised my children as my mama raised me, too see the person. Not the size of their house, money in their pocket or color of their skin. Because of this I have 2 wonderful biracial grandchildren. My son won custody of them about 3 years ago and is an awesome single parent except in one area…..my granddaughters hair care. Thank goodness I found your website and You Tube videos recently on Pinterest!
    Crystal at 6 now has beautiful, dark brown curly hair that when wet is down to her waist. She looks a lot like your middle daughter. It has the soft texture from her father’s side and beautiful curls from her moms. From me she is cursed to be extremely tender headed! I only wash it twice a week but am wondering after watching some of your videos and reading the posts if this is too much? I condition it well but it seems to me to be a little dry. I intend to try your recipe for the detangler immediately and as soon as possible to practice the banding and some of the easier hairstyles you show on the videos. After raising 2 boys Grammie’s hairstyle repertoire is limited!
    You have a lovely family and I’m learning so much from your information. Thank you Joy! And God bless!

    1. Hi Deborah! Welcome 🙂 We are surely glad to have you and your beautiful family with us on the blog. Thank you for your kind words, support, and the loving way you are influencing your family – that is exactly how to change the world. Thank you 🙂
      For hair ~ if the hair seems dry, yes, you may be using too much shampoo too often. Here is a general routine to try, and then you can adjust it for each unique head of hair you care for
      1) Only use a good quality shampoo with as few chemicals as possible. All the items I will mention and where to buy the best priced items I use are listed in my Biracial Hair 101 Store page.
      2) Start with using the shampoo once every 10 days. After you shampoo always conditioner with a good quality conditioner without chemicals that strip the hair. Detangle using the DIY spray and a Denman brush.
      3) Add additional Leave In Conditioner. Then loosely braid or band for bedtime.
      4) Use satin or silk sleep bonnet to keep moisture in and prevent breakage / damage of the hair.
      5) In morning: remove sleep cap, remove band or loose braid, and then spritz with the detangle spray to refresh the hair. Leave down or style as desired.
      *Here’s a general rule we have: any time we get the biracial hair wet (shower, swim, or bath) we Co-Wash. This means you wash the hair with just conditioner, not shampoo. Then you follow the rest of the hair care list as I outlined for you. You will soon find out how many days is best for your head of hair until you need to shampoo wash it. Some need shampoo once per week, some only every 14 days, it is definitely specific to each scalp. You are looking for moisturized, less breakage, shine, growth, and that means you will be on the right track! For a child with a tender head, following a daily and nightly routine such as I outlined above is very important to stay on top of the hair care and prevent tangles. It will help immensely as you get started. Feel free to ask questions any time and we will make more videos to bless your family. Thank you again for sharing your story with us. Kindly, Joy

  5. I am a reader from across the pond :-).

    I came across one of your youtubes tonight (my daughter is mixed race) & I look forward to digging deeper, to find those little gems to help tame (& condition!) her beautiful locks.

    However, on the article “Uncross your arms”; we watched with horror, sadness & disbelief in this country at the racially motivated events that unfolded all too recently in your country. Racism exists in the UK, but (in my region & in most, thankfully) not to anywhere near the same depth or extremity or outward expression as we have seen in yours. My heart sank as I read what occurred for your daughter & I am unsure how I would respond myself (my daughter is 4) in the same circumstances.
    Your response (& I am a bible-believing Christian) blew me away. Thank you so much for sharing. I wonder if God directed me to your site today for far more than just helpful haircare tips! 😀
    I look forward to reading more. Thank you for teaching me that to instruct my daughter in how to respond to the world is THE greatest role I have – what a privilege, and thank GOODNESS I have Jesus to help me do it! 😀

    Thanks again.

    1. Thank you so much for coming to our blog and sharing a love for multicultural hair and family! Your story and kind words of understanding and support mean so much and our family all listened to your letter you wrote us together. You are why we started this blog. People just like you around the world, who we want to lift up with encouragement and know that every single member of your family is loved, valued, beautiful, and important to this world. Thank you for the encouragement and for Uncrossing Your Arms in your own way today! We welcome you to the blog and see you again soon! Kindly ~ Joy

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