Why Putting Your Faith Into Action Matters 

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Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

As the busy Mama of a toddler, it’s tough to hit the bathroom solo, let alone go on an outing! Y’all, the struggle is real! So when Mom and Dad asked me to dinner, and said my brother would join us, I declared Daddy daughter time in our household and raced for my keys. Since there were only a few hours left before Nai’s bedtime, we headed over to Clark Burger. For months I drove past wistfully thinking of sitting under those expansive umbrellas, eating slowly, enveloped by city sounds, and now, we were here.

Our conversation, punctuated by bursts of laughter, bounced from the guilty pleasure of reality TV to news, and all the mundane stuff which somehow feels infinitely more interesting when you’re with family. I looked over between bites of the veggie burger and then I saw him, sitting, face sunken from fatigue, worn pale skin, brown eyes pleading for us to see him.

His whispers for spare change lost in the euphoria of a balmy Friday summer night. Dad, I said, “we have to help him.” “Of course,” he nodded in agreement. Before I knew it, I was digging in my purse for money. As we finished our meal, I kept my eyes not only on his lanky frame, but the people passing. No one stopped.

Too often, even Christians approach issues of poverty, systemic racism, exclusion of folks who are differently abeled, etc., by simply walking along, content to espouse flowery words of love once a week, while pushing them aside Monday – Saturday.

Photo Credit: Tamara Menzi
But friends, people are in pain, and more than ever they need the radical love of Christ and compassion. They may never open a bible, but they will meet you. Your life is a testament to the Father’s love. Let’s not turn away because it’s too tough. God is calling us to infinitely more.

Jesus loved, healed, and delivered people everyone else shunned – the tax collector, those with physical challenges and relationship issues (remember the woman at the well?). This is what we are called to do through our daily walk. “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).

As we handed him the money, he thanked us profusely, and then did something I will never forget. He looked toward heaven and praised God for this unexpected blessing, nearly in tears. For the past few weeks, as I reflect on our meeting, I am reminded of another scripture passage, Matthew 25: 35-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Let us cling to love instead of judgement, extending empathy before condemnation. God freely gives us His love not to confine it inside of four walls, but to share with everyone.

How do you give back in your community and put your faith into action? 

Stay Informed & Involved:  

I love Sojourner’s magazine, it’s a progressive Christian publication and website which looks at all that is unfolding through eyes of faith and social justice.  I recently discovered Christian Left, another online space for liberal Christians.

National Coalition For the Homeless (donate and get involved).

Back on my Feet, ” a national organization operating in 12 major cities coast to coast, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.”

Why Black Love Matters More Than Ever

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Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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http://liveincolor.org/2016/04/08/why-black-love-matters-more-than-ever/
Photo via Pixaby

We scream black lives matter (and rightly so), but if we ignore the fundamental role of black love, we have lost our way. Love is at the root of revolution, no progress endures without it.  And when black folks authentically love ourselves, families, and communities, we defy a society intent on destroying us.

Beginning at birth, American culture baptizes us in self-hatred. Young girls and boys quickly learn to equate beauty and intelligence with whiteness. Even within the most supportive and progressive families, some kids begin to question their value and worth. The hegemony of structural racism is far reaching and impacts us all in innumerable ways.

Loving Your Color, Yourself

Therefore coming to love yourself, despite all of these toxic messages, becomes an act of courage and determination. Scholar and teacher bell hooks writes in her book Killing Rage: Ending Racism: “Loving blackness as political resistance transforms our ways of looking and being, and thus creates the conditions necessary for us to move against the forces of domination and death and reclaim black life.”

These days it’s tough to scroll through your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed without seeing the latest hashtag for a man, woman, boy or girl killed at the hands of police.  According to the website Mapping Police Violence, “police killed more than 100 unarmed black people” in 2015. This number stands at five times the rate of unarmed whites.”

As we battle such blatant disregard for black life, we also contend with our children being harshly disciplined throughout educational institutions, thereby continuing to fuel a school-to-prison pipeline. Hundreds of school districts across the country punish students of color not in the classroom, but instead, push them directly into correctional facilities.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, cites an alarming statistic in a 2013 blog post: “African-American students are 3.5 times more likely than their white classmates to be suspended or expelled, according to a nationwide study by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Black children constitute 18 percent of students, but they account for 46 percent of those suspended more than once.”

Living under these conditions certainly takes a toll, and although research is ongoing, there is a growing body of work examining the ramifications on our physiological well being. And so, now, more than ever, during an era of mass incarceration, police violence, bitter wounds from drugs, poverty, and violence perpetuated both outside of our community and within it, we need love. Labels of class, sexual orientation, ideology or religion should not divide, but rather connect us as we realize the fullness of a shared humanity.

Love Is Radical Resistance to Despair

Love is radical resistance to despair, a pathway to compassion which ignites transformation. Once you and I begin to see one another, looking earnestly with our hearts, we will consistently stand against any form of violence or exclusion (sexism, homophobia, those who are differently-abled), perpetuated outside of the community or within it.

The challenges facing us may never subside. Yet we must actively choose to create spaces which honor love. I believe the most profound healing emerges through excruciating pain. The first space is the mind. Are your thoughts focused on irritation and mistrust, or openness and peace? Are you gentle with yourself or harsh?

Our second opportunity to nurture love is within the home. When is the last time you said I love you and hugged or kissed your family? The final part of the journey is extending love to those with whom you are unfamiliar – not your friends, co-workers, or spouse. Can you come to view these “strangers” as your brothers and sisters?

I read a Facebook post a few years ago that said: “there isn’t a person you would not love if you knew their story.” If you and I are brave enough to bear witness and listen, we may find pieces of our truth in another’s experience. This the essence of authentic love, coming to fully connect with others.

The liberation of black folks then depends not only on political and economic might, but our willingness to love one another and ourselves with an unwavering commitment.

The video below is a collection of photos (folks I know) which demonstrates some of the ways we love one another  – mothers, fathers, children, and couples. I purposely chose not to show celebrities; for me, it’s about recognizing the love which manifests everyday among our friends, co-workers, and neighbors. All of us can choose love.

Video produced by my awesome hubby, Kes, founder of Keystone Productions.

This piece was first published by Beautifully Said magazine where I am a coulmnist.

Talk to Me!

How are you welcoming love into your life? How do you cultivate self love as a person of color?

 

Finding Beauty in a Hard Place

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Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
― Tupac Shakur, The Rose That Grew from Concrete

Remain open to beauty, and you notice it exists everywhere, often lingering conspicuously in those hard places, sitting among boarded up houses, broken glass and buried dreams.

Like so many hip-hop greats, Tupac Shakur shared profound lessons with us, but his poem, “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” about beauty in unexpected places, resonates so deeply with my spirit. These lines about that unlikely blooming rose echo most loudly: “Funny by keeping it’s dreams; Pac wrote, “it learned to breathe fresh air.”

I am sure we were quite a sight yesterday; me wearing 3 inch stilettos, a vibrant dress, while holding my daughter Naima; Shannon-Eli, blog co-editor with Timberland boots, electric blue eyeshadow, and Keston, my husband and blog multimedia director, photographing us against colorful murals, epic in scope.

Artistic beauty pouring out from an unlikely place, along Greenmount Avenue, a street in Baltimore synonymous with crack and poverty, vulgarity and despair. I felt my body loosen as the sun lightly enveloped my arms and legs; for the first time in months I walked through this street I often drive by and saw it anew.

One feels a different sense of a place when walking, a kind of connection with the people who inhabit the space; you come to share an experience, if only for a moment.

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There is beauty in taking time to see what you would otherwise ignore, jumping out of your comfort zone, and discovering when you move out of your own way, you soar.

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As we headed back to the car, an older man passing by curiously asked how our photo shoot went; “we looked beautiful,” he said earlier as Shannon and I posed and laughed with one another. “What were we doing it all for?” he wanted to know. Shannon told him it was for our blog, Live In Color, and to visit us online; he said he would check us out, with an easy smile, and I believe he will. Connecting with another human being and bringing the light of art, there is authentic beauty.

Live In Color – Emelda

All photos taken by Keston De Coteau, multimedia director for Live In Color blog, filmmaker, photographer and founder of Keystone Productions