Lessons from When They See Us

Trigger warning, today’s post is about When They See Us. If you are not in a place to deal with this heavy topic I suggest you take a moment and come back to it later.

I knew peripherally about the case first known as The Central Park Jogger. I confess it was one of those cultural antidotes that I knew about but did not truly understand. Today, I know more thanks to the Netflix series and engaging in my own research into the case.

The series is more than another show. It’s a nuanced telling of how these children were not seen as such. They were given the moniker Central Park 5, convicted of the crime of rape. In 2002 the real perpetrator , Matias Reyes confessed to the crime. Their convictions were vacated.

In 2012 a documentary titled The Central Park 5 produced by Ken and Sarah Burns came out, which started the conversation. However their story was not fully seen until now thanks to Ava DuVernay and this series.

It’s the story of our country, the things we choose to look away from about our system of justice in order to be comfortable. The pain Yusef, Kevin, Raymond, Korey and Antron endured and still do today has finally been acknowledged.

How many other people are living with this same pain and don’t get their story out? Too many. The story of the powerful and the vulnerable plays out again and again in our communities.

The entire cast and crew did an exemplary job with this art. I’m grateful for these men now known as the Exonerated Five being so willing to tell their story. I watched it twice through and Episode four which focuses on Korey Wise’s miraculous survival three times. I didn’t want to miss a thing, the least I can do is watch, they had to live it.

The connection to Kalief Browder and his time in Rikers while awaiting trial for a charge cannot be ignored either. The two cases gave me chills at how much they echoed each other. The documentary about him is also available on Netflix, Time, The Kalief Browder Story.

It stayed with me for days. I spent hours researching the case on Google. I saw that this series was asking more of me than simply consumption.

It’s not enough to watch and be upset. It has asked me to question the narrative set before me. It asks me to be more engaged in my community, to know who are these prosecutors and judges that are often names on a ballot. It’s important to question the narrative the media puts out.

It has me asking how has my ignorance of these things contributed to injustice? How do I now going forward be a conduit for change? I’m not a lawyer or an expert on the penal system but I have learned enough that there needs to be change.

I’ve been expanding my book shelf this last year and a half, following activists on Twitter and To rethink what is justice. We need to listen to the truth, pay attention to what is being done with our tax dollars under the guise of justice and ask questions. The phrase don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time needs to eradicated. What I’ve learned is this, the justice system is not as cut and dry as I once believed.

So much pain has been caused to these men, as well as the victims of the real perpetrator. I’m grateful their convictions were vacated and they won a lawsuit against NYC and later New York State but it’s too bad it came after so much pain was endured. No amount of money will give them back their youth but I pray that they do get to have peace and healing.

When They See Us and the Oprah Special When They See Us Now is currently streaming on Netflix.

Here are some links to get started

The other survivors of Reyes

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thecut.com/amp/2019/06/the-attackers-other-victims-in-the-central-park-five-case.html

The connection between of Kailef Browder and Korey Wise cannot be ignored

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/nyregion/kalief-browder-settlement-lawsuit.html

Check out the Innocence Project

https://www.innocenceproject.org/

Raymond Santana’s clothing company

https://parkmadisonnyc.com/

Being Single & Seeking Community

Living alone has great benefits. There is no one to fight for control over the remote, wearing  whatever you like and eating whatever you like. It can be the absolute dream of being an adult. But there are times when it can be hard too. Coming home after a long day of work to an empty home can either be a relief or hard. 

A relief when the day has been long and stressful. When all I crave is a nice shower or bath, a bit of food and quiet before bed. Hard when craving companionship and no one is available because well life. Then there are those days when it’s a mixed bag, when you desire a bit of both. 

Right now, I’m in a peaceful place with my life and therefore my state of singleness. I’m coming up on my first year of living in my own home, becoming more settled in my position at work and growing more in my faith in the Lord.

But I have been in a place when it wasn’t good. When I listened to the lies to start with, the ones that say I was not worthy of God’s love and care. When my defenses are down and exhaustion seeps into my life I’m more susceptible To seek out comfort or weakness and sin . I turned away from the truth of who I am in Christ. Choosing instead to believe the lies,that I am forgotten or unloved. 

Thankfully I’ve been connected to a healthy church for most of my Christian life. Writing those words I understand how privileged that is to write . Because without a healthy community to rely on a person can fall into becoming disconnected.

Falling away from community doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, bit by bit until one day looking up and realizing that it’s just not there as it once had been. 

Finding a healthy church community is hard. Maintaining a connection to one is hard too. It means trusting strangers with all that we carry in our souls. People have been hurt because those they trusted disappointed them and so have withdrawn from pursuing community. 

A lot of factors can contribute to disconnection. Changes in work or school schedules, family obligations, personal health and mental health to name a few. Or perhaps there are difficulties with friendships or a feeling of a lack of care or finding understanding from your church. 

The thing to recognize first is do you believe that the Lord is your Savior ? I mean really believe that you are the beloved child of God? Without first believing this, then the rest doesn’t matter. Nothing else written here can help you. 

If you find yourself in a state of disbelief who can you reach out that you trust to discuss this? 

Pray for your belief in Him and in the community He desires you take part in. 

Peel back the layers of your struggle with connecting with others and seek the Lord’s wisdom in letting go of your defenses. Allow walls to tumble down in order to connect or reconnect.

Reach out to renew old relationships that help you to strive for the Lord. Some old connections do need to stay in the past. Be wise here.

Stay connected, living in community takes belief, trust and effort. It can be hard, but it is so worth it. Make the effort to join a group offered at church or volunteer.

I’ve learned to open myself up more, to be vulnerable with people and honest with people in my life. Instead of holding things in and it allowing bitterness to seep in. I try to reach out to people in my life and to stop assuming things about them.

I tend to long to be invited to things and so I had to challenge myself to also invite people into my home. Doing these things has helped me in those hard times of be alone.

Working at relationships has helped me to understand the Gospel even more so. Having a strong community of women who love Jesus has helped me in learning to disbelieve those lies.

Being Forgotten and Then Remembered

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In conjunction with the release of Sarah Bessey’s new book Out Of Sorts, I am participating in a synchblog. If you haven’t read her blog or her previous book, Jesus Feminist I highly reccomend you do. Her voice is often breath of fresh air on the interwebs and I look forward to reading her latest book!

I used to thinkthat I was forgotten, but now I think I am beloved.

When I was a child, I went on road trips with my parents. My dad enjoyed looking at historical sights, often this meant graveyards. Graveyards filled with headstones whose names were well worn off. Lives that were now forgotten.

It saddened me, that lives fully lived could be forgotten. It struck me that, my life would also be forgotten. A fear was born. I feared that this would become my fate. My life here forgotten once all those who loved me leave this world. I can’t say that this is exactly when this fear began but it sure didn’t help it.

And this fear grew as I entered my teen years. As I grieved the loss of several family members over a three year span. As I tried to fit in but didn’t. Becoming jealous when hearing of others going out and I wasn’t invited. I began to feel that being forgotten was simply my lot in life.

Then I met Jesus. I began to read the Bible and I learned something crucial. That the Lord doesn’t need me, but instead that he wanted me. He had never forgotten me in all the time I felt so. He had pursued me as I pursued friendships and approval.

He is my creator, he brought me to life. I felt so forgotten and hopeless because I didn’t know of the amazing love Jesus has for me. How this truth that I am his beloved, royal daughter squashed this fear of being forgotten.

Those moments of jealousy and anger can still crop up from time to time. But I am quickly reminded of who I am Christ. I will never be doomed to being forgotten.

One Light In The Darkness

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I have had this blog for just over two years. In that time, I hope at least, that my story and posts have been helpful.
Helpful and encouraging to those looking to become healthy, explore story and explore other topics such as faith and singleness.

I want to do more. For a while it has been on my heart to help those trapped in the vicious cycle of sex trafficking.
But I was stuck in how to do this and how to do it well. Bringing awareness is a first step, by helping to bring more understanding to this struggle.

What I discovered is that I can use my words, this blog to bring the truth of what is happening. I have signed up to blog for the Exodus Road. An organization that I have been following for sometime now. They are working to eradicate sex trafficking in South East Asia.

Once a month I will share information, facts and triumphs. My hope in doing this is to bring awareness and give voice to the voiceless. From time to time there will be fundraising efforts or simply to ask that you too share this blog.

I have much to learn about sex trafficking and I ask for grace as I venture into this new endeavor.

You can follow their efforts on Instagram @theexodusroad
Twitter@theexodusroad
And like their page on Facebook.

Pray for all those involved in the front lines of this issue.