Archives For black

blog post -black in America

Growing up, I vividly remember having a big heart for life and for people. I wanted to connect with people and get along with others.

I was a different kind of kid. I didn’t really get along or connect too well with most of the kids I went to school with. I didn’t really enjoy all too much the music they enjoyed. I didn’t watch the same stuff on TV. I was not into sports at all.

I was a book reading, story writing, comic book collecting, cartoon drawing, science obsessed, TV news watching boy with an imagination that was more active than a volcano.

I could imagine that if I had not spent half of my boyhood daydreaming and drawing cartoons or writing I would’ve lost my mind from all of the bullying and the experiences of being a social outcast.

From elementary to college, I was often accused of “acting white” and my racial identity was constantly being challenged because of what was considered the social norm for a black male.

It was the beginning of war on my heart and mind.

When Bullying Mutates To Hate

On the surface, I didn’t think I had an issue with race, or even with my identity as a black man in America, that is until things started coming up in my 20s.

I thought I had the issue of race straight in my life. I didn’t have an issue with white people, but, I did have an issue with my own people.

I always felt completely unaccepted by people from my own community. Often ostracized and humiliated before my peers, I came to the conclusion early on in life that when it came to being yourself, you couldn’t be you and be black at the same time.

To be black did not mean being Kendall Lyons. It meant being something other than.

For a long time, and most people don’t know this about me, I held a kind of disdain and hatred for my own people and for myself. The years of bullying mutated my view of race and black America into something ugly, bitter and void of compassion.

The kind of self-hatred I struggled with also turned into classism.

I saw myself better than people who were “ghetto.” They were the loud, obnoxious “cool” crowd who thought they could get whatever they wanted through displays of blissful-like ignorance and prideful arrogance. This was the best classification for the people who treated me terribly.

Ironically, I gained more acceptance from people who didn’t look like me. I was considered unique, charming, different and someone that was good! They wanted exactly what I wanted, to be accepted and to accept others and treat them as the way they desired to be treated.

The Cause

I wouldn’t confront the issue of racism and prejudice and classism until a little after college. I was working for a major bank at the time and it was there I met an older black man.

We quickly became friends and he later would be a mentor. I thank God for placing him in my life. He actually paid attention to what I was saying and sharing about my life. He was genuinely interested in who I was as a person.

He asked about my love for cartoons and comics. He asked about my Faith in the Lord. He shared his relationship with God and Christ Jesus with me.

He actually cared about me and I was not judged.

Then, he encouraged me to consider the plight and the pain and the poor treatment of black Americans.

Yes, the black kids who did bully and talk about me throughout school, as my mentor and friend said, might have been kids who just didn’t understand. In fact, they might have been kids who have never been exposed to the things that I was exposed too…music, culture, art and the list could go on.

Because they’ve never seen someone like me before, I was a prime target for teasing and taunting.

But why did I not acknowledge those facts so quickly? What made me so reluctant about accepting that?

Because it felt like the bullies won if I chose to do so!

I didn’t want to be a perpetual loser of a war that was still going on inside of me. It felt like…since I couldn’t fight them on the playground of boyhood, I could win on the battleground of manhood.

Looking back, that was foolish. I would’ve merely destroyed myself.

I thought like that because I was hurting. I was angry.

I still struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence from those days. I struggled for a while to forgive and move on.

The Cure

A few years after college, a few issues had come up to the surface in my life that I knew couldn’t be ignored any longer.

I met a Christian counselor in Dallas, Texas to talk about my identity and to talk about the issues I dealt with. He was a black man who not only understood where I was coming from but also got to know my story just like my mentor and friend did.

As time went on, I got a better understanding about the condition of black America and the systemic racism and prejudice that placed us in less than decent conditions throughout multiple American institutions.

During the time I was praying and asking the Lord to walk me through this issue, to heal the broken places in my heart regarding the issue of race and identity. Mainly because I would find myself getting angry and frustrated with the obvious racism and prejudice that I observed. And yet, wanted to believe that there were surely other explanations to the moments that I saw unfold whether it was on TV or even in person.

The Lord said to me, “I couldn’t claim to love God and hate my brother.”

It was the beginning of conviction, but, it was also the beginning of healing. The Lord knew that a lot of unjust and cruel things were done to me and towards me. Jesus wanted access to that part of my heart, but, I also had a responsibility as a believer.

I had to want to change. I had to repent and never, ever return to that dark space in life.

Because of the change in my life,

I’ve also stopped telling people that bullies will someday get theirs. The truth is, though, they might not.

I wanted to believe that those who bullied were going to receive some kind of major punishment in life. They would get pay back for the things they did.

It was my own little piece of solace to remind me that somewhere, somehow, there was justice for me in my time of trouble and need.

But, I learned that my real victory over bullying came from Jesus…to live and love like Him regardless of what people say and think. The real victory in Christ over bullying and other issues took the place of what was originally my hope for the bullies and enemies in my life to get their punishment.

Victory in Christ removed the necessity for me to have vindication.

The Way I See It Now

It has been a long time since I believed and thought the way I used too. I am still in the growing and maturing process as it relates to my identity in Christ and as it relates to who I am as a person.

My Pastor preached on Romans 12:14-21, and verse 21 stuck out to me:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In some ways, I can see how someone can be driven to a kind of hatred that it leads them to believe they are either justified or threatened.

And yet, whether you are Christian or not, there’s still no excuse.

Once we release our just or unjustified hatred towards one another and learn to love one another even to the depths of our imperfections can we really experience true freedom.

As for me, I’ll take the road less traveled, the narrow way, the freedom and victory that is in Jesus. It is far better for me to do that than to try and protect my heart on my own. And if I am called to suffer, at least I know its real love that’s in place for me to do so…genuinely.

Advertisements

Free To Speak

March 17, 2017 — 3 Comments

Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 2.43.10 PM

On a Friday morning I had a chance to go to the barbershop while I was out of town in Oklahoma City.

You know the experience especially if you’ve ever ventured into a predominantly black barbershop. Their’s that familiar sound of electric clippers humming in the background, boisterous conversations over the current affairs of the day and sometimes you get a hint of background noise from the TV or radio.

I normally don’t go to the barbershop, but this time, I had a chance to experience this very familiar moment once again. The discussion between the barbers and the people in the shop turned from who was the best quarterback in football to the president and the congress and finally to race and culture.

As I sat there, I quietly listened. It reminded me of the times I was a little boy. I would sit and listen to this adults go back and forth until they were blue in the face. But then it hit me…I am free to speak now! I actually have a voice! I am an adult with the privilege to share my views and analysis.

One gentlemen said a few things I both agreed and disagreed with. I listened intently to the man’s take on race, prejudice, life, women, politics and much more. My arms and legs were crossed and my eyes slowly wandered as to avoid staring.

As I was getting my haircut, I felt this deep, bottom of my stomach urge to speak up. I really, really, didn’t want too. Seriously, I didn’t!

I mean, what could I possibly contribute to this conversation? What would happen if I did say something? Who would care? Why would it matter? Who on earth needs to even hear it? I don’t have the background, experience or anything to back up what comes out?

The conversation was finally over! I realized I just about lost my opportunity to speak up. I felt like such a loser at that moment. A really deep part of me demanded to speak out and I kept silent.

But just as I was about to give up, the conversation started back up.

I added my two cents! A consensus was made with a very understandable group of men who heard what I had to say. In fact, they even demanded more depth from me, which I might add was pretty cool! Here I am, a young guy being asked to expand on my analysis in front of men who were several years older than me.

Deep down, this very real, masculine, powerful and vocal part of me wanted to speak out and I almost missed out.

Why!? Because we short change ourselves! We doubt if we really have what it takes. We doubt if we could make a difference. We sit back and allow things to unfold and cower in the back.

The experience at the barbershop moved me from being the boy who sat back and watched to a real man with real perspective and real insight.

Tribute to Dallas 1All day Friday, I did everything I could to hold back tears as they weld up. 5 police officers the night before were killed in Dallas during a peaceful protest against the shooting of black men by police officers.

I was sitting at home when it happened, expecting the watch a regular 9pm newscast on our local Fox station and then go on about my life and get things done before bed.

A 9pm broadcast turned into multiple hours of a surreal experience that was unfolding before me just 20 minutes away.

The journalist in me scrolled through multiple news sites and reporting agencies on my phone. While many reported the facts, others capitalized on the propaganda and on the fears of others who have opposing opinions about the news of the day…the shooting in Dallas…the shooting of black men by police officers…black lives matter…and injustice as a whole.

It was all too much!

Something continued to stir in me later that Friday as I listened to Gospel music and spent time in continual prayer.

I felt a tug at my heart to do something.

So, I began to draw.

The second that I was finished with my latest comic strip, and posted the strip online, I fell completely apart. I could no longer hold back.

I cried for lost lives…for the state of our country…for the fact that many of us as American citizens claim to get it, but show little or no empathy and are so blind, we refuse to step up and try to understand.

Once I was done…what was emotional turned into something inspirational…a deep call to action that went even further than cartooning.

It was a pull and tug that was hard to describe. It was like I knew what I had to do, knowing that it could cause me trouble, knowing it could generate disdain, knowing that even though my voice was one of many it was still a voice that had not yet cried out in the wilderness.

I had to speak up! I had to write!

It was time for me as a Christian, a writer, a cartoonist, a black man, a man, period, to stand up and speak life and peace into the chaos of our time.

I love writing fiction and I love writing the kind of literary works that get people to think, laugh, love and live. But now, the responsibility sinks in to do much more writing than I actually have.

Not everyone will understand. And that’s okay. I’ll pray for them. For those willing to try too, I applaud them and pray for them. And for those who don’t care, my prayers are for you too.

Silence is no longer an option. Silence hurts people, creates division and builds up a sense of empathy and carelessness because as long as it isn’t me and mine, I’m good with whatever happens.

Silence is the passive man’s voice.

Silence is an affront to those who stood before us and died for us. It is also an affront to the men and women of law enforcement who seek to do more good than harm. We must all choose to be a part of a much larger solution.

But first, before you jump in, you must acknowledge there’s a problem!