Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“It isn’t about race!”

“It isn’t about race!”

That has to be the most ridiculous excuse I’ve ever heard. To be honest, when I hear it, I’m enraged. How could you look at the events of Ferguson, Baltimore and all the others (because this is unfortunately a common occurrence) and say it isn’t about race? But then again, I have to remember that a lot of people will never fully understand these events because they don’t live the same reality.

As a minority in America, you are constantly stereotyped and labeled. If I’m being completely honest, I have been a hypocrite who has contributed to the stereotyping and I’m disappointed in that. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of dirty looks, be watched while shopping, and get less than pleasing service in stores because of the color of my skin. And that’s nothing compared to what others experience. My own father, the hardest working man I know, has been the victim of racial profiling by police officers on more than one occasion. He’s been followed to work and questioned, pulled over and had his car searched, all because of the color of his skin.

Race has everything to do with what’s going on. Now, does this mean I agree with people looting local businesses and destroying their own neighborhoods? Absolutely not. But do I understand the reason behind their actions? Yes. Many are choosing to write these people off as ‘thugs’ and completely demonize their actions, shifting the focus away from the real issue, which is why they’re so upset. Over the past year, you’ve seen people who are genuinely hurt and fed up act on their frustration. And while I don’t believe destructive riots are the answer, I’m not going to let that be the focus of the movement itself. Yes, some people are senselessly rioting, but most aren’t. Sensationalism on the part of the media does a great job of influencing our focus, and needless to say, they’re biased. Don’t forget, there’s a real reason for the frustration.

Black people are being killed by law enforcement, and we aren’t receiving any answers. No one is being held accountable for their actions. Do you know how terrifying it is to think that my own father or brother could be victim to this nonsense? Are they law abiding citizens? Of course. But does that mean anything anymore? Who knows. When you continue to allow law enforcement to abuse their power or not be held accountable for their actions, who knows what will come from it.

So say what you want because we’re all entitled to our own opinions, but be careful before speaking on something you know nothing about. If you don’t understand the pain behind the protests, you’ve probably never felt the sting of racism and you probably don’t know what it’s like to carry the weight of racial stereotypes. 

We can’t seem to sympathize with the plight of others and see where they’re coming from, and that’s an issue. We act like ignoring it and downplaying it will make it go away, but that’s clearly not working. There’s so much brokenness, so much injustice, so many underlying issues (poverty, lack of education, mental illness, etc). Yes, it’s all related and relevant. Yes, it’s overwhelming. But ignoring or downplaying it won’t fix a thing. “It’s not about race,” is an easy excuse, but it isn’t valid.


I think it’s time for all of us to wake up and ask ourselves what we’re doing to make the situation better. And if you don’t understand, I think now is the time to start.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

three years later

June 26, 2011.

That's the day my life changed forever.

I still vividly remember sitting in church that Sunday and feeling something different, something new. It's pretty hard to explain how, but in one short church service I felt my heart change. After years of calling myself a Christian, I had a real encounter with God that altered my life forever. It wasn't a big dramatic event, but I just remember feeling God's presence like I never had before.

When God changes your heart you're never quite the same.

My whole life I grew up going to church, memorizing verses and even attending a Christian school at one point. All of the things are nice and all, but without the right motivation (Jesus) they're pointless efforts. In fact, they often leave a bad taste in your mouth when you realize that you're following a bunch of rules and doing good things, but you're still not satisfied.

My efforts apart from God's grace and purposes in my life are meaningless.

In 2011, I was a confused and overwhelmed 16 year old. Today, I'm a confused and overwhelmed 19 year old. The difference is where my trust lies. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can trust in the plans and purposes that God has for me. Sounds like something you've read in a cheesy Christian greeting card, I know, but it's still true. When you're going through the confusing times in life it's really hard to make sense of it all, but when you look back, it's easy to see where God was at work. I know that He is faithful and that truth alone is comforting.

 Life is often frustrating and overwhelming and confusing, but God is my consistency.

I've changed a lot in the past three years. I've seen so much growth and maturity in different areas of my life, which is pretty cool. I hope I can say the same thing three more years from now.

-Cierra

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

it is finished

Start a blog when you go to college, she said.

I obviously wasn't too dedicated to that cause, and now here we are. I'm moving back home in 3 days. I'm 2 projects and a short exam away from finishing my Freshman year of college. What?

So much has changed.

I don't even feel like the same person. No, I didn't move away and go crazy. I moved away and started to develop my own life. A life not determined by my parents, classmates since kindergarten or stereotypes associated with my religious affiliation. I had to start over and think for myself. I went in a member of the tea party, I left...not a member of the tea party. For me, college was stepping out of the box.

As many of you know, I'm a nerd. I always have been and I probably always will be. I feel like I'm probably the only nerd you know who was determined to not go to college. For the longest time I told everyone that I wasn't going. Why? Because of fear. I have a history of staying within my comfort zone, so the very thought of moving away, living with people I didn't know and starting over was pretty daunting. I guess that is pretty intimidating, but seriously? Bust your butt for straight A's and then forgo college? Proof that you can be smart, but still pretty stupid.

My college journey was quite interesting from the very beginning. I chose a school that I knew in my heart was right for me and I got a whole lot of crap for it. Most of the people who's opinions I trusted the most seemed unimpressed with my decision and that sucked. I was 100 percent sure that I made the right decision (still am, by the way) but that didn't make it any easier.
Lesson #1: God is going to force you to make decisions that not everyone will agree with, but it's important to remain faithful and obedient anyway.

My favorite part of this whole experience has, no doubt, been meeting new people. I've been blessed with some of the most amazing friends. They encourage, challenge and inspire me. And they laugh at my jokes. I show up at their doors with my snuggie in hand and a heart full of worries and they always pull me through. They've helped to restore my taste in music, develop a passion for futbol, gain a weird appreciation for Cessna's and given me the desire to be better. I'd be so lost without them.
Lesson #2: Surrounding yourself with the right people can and will change your life for the better.

College is weird. It makes you both sure and completely uncertain. I went in thinking that maybe I had an idea of what I wanted to study. As time went on, I felt more and more comfortable with my decision to pursue a degree in Journalism. Then I wanted to double major with Global Studies. Sike, Psychology. Just kidding I'm graduating in 3 years and starting to grad school. Wait, I really want to double major with Global Studies. And that is where I currently stand. For now. I think. Actually, I feel pretty sure about this one. I wrestled with it all semester, but finally decided to just go for it. I don't know for sure what I want to do. Traveling would be nice. Writing for a missions organization would be cool. I'd love to work for a Christian humanitarian organization. Maybe write a book?
Lesson #3: You can change your mind a lot, but you need to act when it comes to the things that you're passionate about. Live and learn. Don't hesitate and regret.

I obviously learned much more during my first year of college, but these are just some things that really hit me.



Friday, May 2, 2014

flashback: numero uno.

(originally posted  on 7/27/13)

My first blog post. What to say, what to say. I actually have a lot going through my mind, but I don't really know where to begin. It's kind of a crazy time for me right now. In less than 3 weeks, I'm moving out of state to start my freshman year of college. My life is about to drastically change, basically forever, so there's that. I'm excited. Incredibly excited. Sometimes I feel guilty for my excitement, though. I fear missing what's going on right in front of me. 

But, if I'm really honest, there's not a whole lot going on. Ya see, everyone can't wait to turn 18, graduate, and grow up/move on. It sounds great, right? But what no one tells you is, it's actually quite overwhelming. In every possible way. Good. And bad. I'm technically an adult who can make all of my own decisions now. That is extremely terrifying, yet pretty cool at the same time. I mean, I leave for college in less than 20 days. When did this happen? Where did the time go? I don't really know how to feel. Of course, I'm extremely excited. I love my school, I love my roommates, and I love my meal plan, but it's all happening

There's no real going back now. Not on my college plans or any of that, but on life in general. I can't do anything but grow now, and when I really, truly think about what that means, I can admit that I'm really scared. I will get older. My responsibilities will continue to grow. I'll definitely have to learn to live beyond my feelings, because everyday can't be a Friday. Everyday won't feel like a Friday, and now I just have to deal with it. Kudos to you if you're catching the reference. Some days are going to suck. They're going to be really hard. Knowing me, I'll want to just shut down. It's just that from now on, I can't just go complain to my parents when I have a bad day, then go hide in my room. Well, I guess I could, but it won't help me. I'm a big girl now and I'll have to deal with my emotions, conquer my bad days, and learn to be independent. This is my life. I have free reign to do whatever I want. I can achieve goals I've only ever dreamed about. I can travel the world. I can stay stuck. I can fail. 

Kind of scatter-brained and all over the place, huh? But, that's where I am right now. All over the place. The stress hits me in waves. The excitement is pretty much never ending. The fear is unavoidable. Well. That pretty much explains it all right now. I'll leave you with this:
 “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” 
― C. JoyBell C. (via GoodReads)