These Social Ills

Our nation’s latest tragedy finds me wounded on two fronts – the continued devaluing of black life, and not being able to bring a smile to your face. For my own healing, I want to make you laugh. If I could share the stuff that has come out of Ellis’ mouth over these last few days – whew! – it would surely elicit a cackle. But Ecclesiastes 3 taught me that there is a time to laugh and a time to mourn; now is the time for the latter. And so here we are, grieving for a while, and looking toward the hills from which comes our help.

I follow several white evangelical speakers across my social media platforms because of the impact they’ve had on my spiritual formation. Most of them have decades-long ministries with international impact and influence. I no longer live in the Bible belt where I would previously access them through radio. My family and I now live in Denver, where the culture is significantly less God-friendly, so I am grateful for this medium.

One of these speakers published a video which was in my news feed yesterday morning. I keep the volume of videos muted as I scroll so I did not know the subject on which she was speaking, but she was waving her hands, her eyes were bucked, and if I were to guess based solely on her body language, the topic was one about which she was passionate. I assumed she was up in arms over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minnesota police officers, primarily Officer Derek Chauvin. I thought, as one of the people who claims to serve the God who calls us to seek justice, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, then surely, surely, she was speaking passionately about these social ills. I clicked the vid to turn on the audio.

Turns out she was carrying on about whether or not to wear a mask during the spread of the Coronavirus.

Listen. We all have a brand; we are all curators of the content of our social media platforms; we use them exactly the way we want to use them. We craft our posts, graphics, memes, texts; we write them and rewrite them to make sure they say just the right thing (and if you’re me, you edit them even after the world has access to them – tweak it just a bit); we record and re-record videos because we neglected to say this phrase or want to emphasize that thing. To be sure, what we say – what all of us say – in this public arena is what we want people to believe is true about us.

The problem is, what we don’t say is just as important as what we do say.

To repeatedly suffer hate-filled, senseless, horrific loss of people who look like my husband and my son and my daddy and my brother and my nephews and my uncles and my cousins simply because of the color of the skin they were born in is a difficult way to live. When the hatred that is normally a groundswell erupts and an Eric Garner or a Trayvon Martin or a Philando Castille or an Ahmaud Arbery is killed, my anxiety heightens and I am in absolute terror every time my husband leaves our home. And in times like these, it is wholly heartbreaking for my white evangelical-leader siblings who have international influence and impact to remain silent. They model what my sister-friend, Dr. Sarita Lyons, refers to as “a pattern of silence” (follow her here).

And I mean not one peep.

We see you. We hear you. And we heard what you did not say.

My husband and pastor, Brandon Washington (follow him here and here), posted a video on our church’s YouTube channel to white evangelicals that you can view here – admonishing them for not fulfilling the call to pursue justice that Jesus has been placed on their lives. His parting words were, “If you’re not going to join me, then get out of my way.”

But since you’ve read this far, you still have a chance to join us in this fight.

Here’s what you can do to advance the message of the Gospel of your Jesus across your social media platforms:

  • Rid yourself of the safety of consoling your black friends via a private inbox message, e-mail, or text message. When you use those avenues to communicate, you maintain a degree of safety and privacy from your other friends who won’t see you do that. And when we don’t call you on it, we protect you, too. That ends now. Post that on our wall in public so all your friends know where you stand. If you’ve already done that, great. Keep doing it. If you haven’t, do it now.
  • With their permission, change your profile picture to one of a black person or family that you know and love. Then write a post telling their story. In doing this, you will have created a space to start a conversation that begins to teach people that black people are normal human beings who also hate to fold laundry.
  • And this is the big one – share my husband’s video – it’s right here – to the social media platforms of the white evangelical leaders you follow. Many of them have pages on which you cannot create a post, but you most certainly can hop on an existing post and add it there. Expect to receive backlash; God promised you that would happen. But since your Savior went all the way to Golgotha’s hill, hung, bled, and died, you can handle push back from your grandma. When they rebuke you with, “This is not the time nor the place for this!”, your response should be, “Then, when is it?”

Abandon your brand. Embrace your God. May the things that break God’s heart break yours, and may they move you into action.

Proverbs 31:8 & 9 “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.”


The year was 2006. I was employed at a small consulting firm. The husband-and-wife team of owners was out of the office so one other employee and I were the only two people in the the suite of the unassuming two-story office building on a typically cold January morning in Denver. The other worker, Margaret, and I had little in common. She was in her fifties, I, in my thirties; she had been married for decades, I was newly wed; she had grown children and small grandchildren, I had no children; she is white, I am black. The singular thing we had in common is that we worked for the same company.

As someone who ran from controversy and quite frankly, don’t always stand sure-footed when handling it today, I am certain that I did not initiate a sure-to-be controversial conversation about the ever-existing hatred from white Americans toward black Americans, but I found myself in the middle of an exchange on that very topic with Margaret. She made a comment trying to disprove it, then I showed her how what she argued was not true. She made a second attempt to show me how we’ve reconciled as a nation and I pointed out the flaw in that argument, too. Being ill-prepared and too exhausted to continue the dialogue, I made an attempt to end it with,

“Well, racism is definitely still alive and well in America”, to which Margaret replied, “Well, at least there aren’t lynchings anymore.”

The year is 2020. May 25th, almost fifteen years after Margaret assured me that lynchings no longer occur in this country, George Floyd, a black man, was lynched by four white police officers who suspected him of “forgery in progress”, a crime for which the punishment in any of the fifty states in this union is as minimal as a fine and as severe as imprisonment.

In not one of the states in this union is the penalty death, much less death by a knee to the neck in the street by men who chose an occupation whose oath is “to protect and serve”.

George Floyd received neither protection nor service in those final moments that he called out “Momma” through labored and last breaths.

Neither did Philando Castille, who was murdered during a traffic stop while restrained by his seatbelt. When the case went to trial, the officer who killed him was found not guilty.

And the problem is not merely with police officers – it’s the system as a whole. It allows black people to be murdered with little – if any – consequences at all.

In this same year, Ahmaud Arbery was hunted and killed by white men while out for a jog. His killers have yet to stand trial.

In 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed by a citizen who erroneously ascribed to him ill intent as he walked home with Skittles and a Snapple. His killer was acquitted.

These are but a few of these types of killings that have occurred but they are innumerable.

Margaret meant well. She was hoping to make me feel better by pointing out that public lynchings no longer occur, but history and I both proffer myriad events like these that should cause her to believe otherwise. So much has to change to bring an end to these injustices, but here’s what you can do: start with a gut check. Honestly look inward and see how your heart and your mind are at odds with one another. You have much work to do if your instinct is to come to the defense of the killers with statements that begin, “But…” Ask God to break your heart with the things that break his heart. Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with the Lord.

This is my website. Let me tell you how I see this going down, a’ight? A’ight.

Making people laugh is my calling. My calling, I say. So when you read what is written here, thou shan’t be taken off guard when you find yourself doing so. Be it a well-timed, flawlessly executed joke or one that doesn’t land (my goodness, those are the worst because now I’m having to explain to you what the joke meant and how it was funny to your no-sense-of-humor-having self), being gifted with the ability to make people giggle so hard that they cry or snort or slobber or poot is something that brings me joy.

And I do consider it one of the spiritual gifts – gastrointestinal upset notwithstanding – that Paul excluded because those Romans and Corinthians were in constant need of “grace and peace”, so he didn’t have time for the jokey-jokes.

While I expect that you will release a chortle or two, I hope you will read something here that makes you think, or maybe even changes your mind on some deeply-ingrained belief you hold (Natural deodorant is a scam. Change my mind… 🪑☕.️..after you shower then apply some Tussy or Mitchum. And Mitchum is so effective, you could skip a day; not so for that Himalayan salt stone you swiped your armpits with this morning. I love ya too much to not tell ya when ya attitude and ya underarms stank.)

Mitchum Cream Deodorant Unscented 2 Oz. Jar

But my primary goal is to make Jesus’ name famous – just so we’re clear.

Topics we’ll explore will include, but will not be limited to:
*Jesus; He’s worth the repeat
*Health, Fitness, and Why You Keeping A Bacon Grease Can 👏🏾 Filled 👏🏾With 👏🏾 Bacon Grease is Crucial To Us Developing A Long-Lasting Friendship
*Homeschooling (is hard. The end.)
*Ministry Life (inhaaaaaale; exhaaaaaale)
*Marriage/Mar-rich (see what I did there?)
*Miscellaneous (to be sorted before Jesus returns)

Now, I said “Topics we’ll explore” because I do not intend for this to be one-way communiqué. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I hope to be so engaging *whew, chillay!* that you can’t help but respond, even when we disagree. And on that note, I’ll give you the singular rule that we all must follow whilst in this space:

Talk to me like you love me. I will talk to you like I love you.

Oh! And if (when, let’s be real) you getcho chuckle on and you think of someone else whose day would be brightened here, are you gonna hide it under a bushel? “NO!” (I heard you. 🤣) Leave a comment, then share the love and laughter with your friends and subscribe and follow my website thingy! I’m still new to this, so I’m clear on neither the language nor what happens when you do that. But I know I’m supposed to say it. 🤷🏾‍♀️

Alright! That’s all for today. Talk with you soon!

P.S. If you have the pleasure of knowing my husband, the esteemed Master, soon-to-be Dr. Brandon Washington, then you know he is out of his mind over all these made up words, bad syntax, and poor grammatical choices. Just nuts. (⬅I threw that fragment sentence in just for you, Brantastic. 😉)

More, much more on him later…

According to Ellis

“…and there’s stuff I want to talk to you about but we’re always in public and everyone’s around and I can’t talk to you,” confessed my eight-year-old son and my heart sunk.

I dream-sequenced back to when at the tender age of five, he expressed to me that he wasn’t getting any respect. Because it was bedtime, I wrote it off as a stall tactic, but upon further investigation, turns out he wasn’t completely wrong and in that moment, by not hearing his heart, I had failed him.

Fast forward three years and I was having a deja vu moment.

You have to understand – a request from Ellis for alone time is common and since he has no affect, missing his emotions can happen easily. But with that singular loaded statement, “I can’t talk to you”, I internally lamented the obviously unmanageable volume of heart-wrenching topics that he wanted – nay, needed to talk to me about, and that since we hadn’t done so, I was failing him yet again.

But this was my fresh start. This was the dawn of our evening walks and talks in which he would pour out his little heart to me – his rock, his confidant, his momma. I swallowed the lump in my throat and braced myself. “Well, that’s why we’re doing this, Buddy. It’s just me and you out for our walk. We can talk about whatever you want to talk about. So whatcha got?”

“Okay. If you had a flying car, what would it run on – Slushee or smoothie?”

And so began the first of what I hope to be many evening walks between my son and me.

We left our home, which is the third one on our block, and headed toward the corner and before we got there, I heard him exclaim, “I love this walk” two times and then two more as we crossed the street. His excitement was contagious. I asked him how far he wanted to walk: a quarter-mile, a half-mile, advising him that no matter what distance he chose, we’d have to double it because we would be walking back, as well.

“Do you want to go to MLK?”

“What about that school up there with the playground?”

“Oh, sure, we can do that!”

And so we did. It was a warm spring evening, and he had donned a light sweater. Not sure, I asked if he had the sweater on in the house or if he had just put it on for our walk. “I just put it on for our walk. It looked like sweater weather to me. I love this walk.”

My husband and I regularly relish in the fact that our son is unintentionally overflowing with entertaining quips, so priming the pump is not necessary. One needs to only make him aware that questions need his answers – and he readily supplies them.

His thoughts on seeing a deer: *gasp* “Is that a deer? Mooom, that’s not a real deer. Fun fact: I’ve never seen a real deer before. Just kidding. Yes, I have.”

His BFF’s mom and I planned a surprise Zoom meeting for our sons. When I asked him if he enjoyed the surprise: “I conveniently just said that I barely ever see him and then I saw him!”

On plans for the future: “When Coronavirus ends, I say we go to Italy and take a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and make it look like I’m holding it up. And Reese can have a turn, too.”

His feelings about me protecting him from the cross traffic of oncoming cars: “I’d be furious with them if they hit ya.”

We had returned home on the evening of our first walk. My favorite son has on his jammers and it is now bedtime. He just walked into my bedroom, gave me some sugar and asked, “Guess how many friends I have?” “How many?” “If I count Reese, 34. Goodnight.”

Oh, and for the record, we agreed that smoothies would be the better source of fuel for our flying cars. Slushees are just ice, sugar, and syrup flavoring (he can’t pick a fave between Orange and Blue Raspberry), whereas smoothies have fresh fruit, healthy fats, and are organic, and that’s good for everything, according to Ellis.