Volume 2, Edition 8
A Word from the
First Lady of Louisiana
This month’s blog has not been as easy to write as I thought it would be. I’ve been afraid of not saying the right thing or that my words would be criticized through the eyes of other people’s hurt and prejudices. And then there was the fear of offending people on both sides of the political spectrum. But this is not political, my friends.
I start by saying there’s no way that I can justly put myself in the same shoes as my African-American brothers and sisters. Nor can I put myself in the same shoes as my Jewish brothers and sisters who have been through so much themselves. Even my Cajun and Italian brothers and sisters who also had to pave their way throughout history.
However, at this time, the focus is on our African-American brothers and sisters. I recently read the post below.
This post made me stop. It reminded me how hurtful words and actions could be to others. This is more than just about words, it’s also about actions. It’s about moving forward together arm in arm. Acknowledging that our Black brothers and sisters should have the same opportunities and be treated in the same way and manner as we all want to be treated. Some might ask, “Well, what’s holding African-Americans back, how are they not able to move forward?” If we’re honest with ourselves, there are many obstacles still in the way, and one of those is prejudice.
Years ago, I attended a Bible study and heard someone say, “I’m prejudiced, and that is one thing I’m NOT going to be able to change about myself.” That statement was made after reading words from the Bible that specifically referred to what God says about prejudice and injustice. I have thought about that statement often.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:17 )
Is it really okay to ignore some of God’s words and directions and only choose the ones we like? No, it is not. I am called to change and be a better person and neighbor. So, I choose today and every day to align myself with God’s word. I am not perfect, I also have to filter my thoughts, words, and adjust my mindset at times. I pray to be a better person each day. It’s time, my friends, time to love your neighbor as yourself. It’s time to reach across the aisle, across the street, and across town.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? “(Micah 6:8)
I was talking with one of my White friends the other day. She shared a story of her boys when they were young. Her boys loved to play outside with Nerf guns running throughout the neighborhood. This was a game they played often. On this particular day, the boys had a few friends over. One of the young boys was African-American. They decided to go outside and play their favorite game, Nerf wars. Within a short period of time, the police showed up because of a call from someone in the neighborhood. This neighbor made the call because of the young black boy running around with a gun, a Nerf gun, like the other boys. It was quite a task for my friend to explain what happened to this child’s mother, her African-American friend. So why did this happen? Plain and simple, it was prejudice.
Racial prejudice is wrong, and we all have to try to do our best to change it. But it will never change unless we first learn what real love is and that love recognizes that every person is worthy because he or she is created in the image of God. As a Christian, I am taught to follow Christ. In the New Testament, Jesus preached love. In the gospel of John, he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34)
(Philippians 2:3) Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves
Jesus crossed racial, political, and gender boundaries to love equally, individually, and without prejudice. We often see in the Bible where Jesus stands up for the people who could not stand up for themselves, standing with people whom others would not stand near or speaking up for those that could not speak for themselves. Jesus teaches us that sometimes you have to sit and listen to others in order to understand them and know their hearts and from where they come. Through listening to others, we learn more about them and can support their feelings and understand their actions in a better way. He talked about the love of God, and He lived the love of God. Jesus’ life showed us love and love in action. That’s why actions often speak louder than words.
So let’s pause for a few minutes and listen to those on the receiving end of racial injustice. We shouldn’t reject their stories because they don’t match our own experiences, or dismiss their words because we don’t understand what they’re going through. We shouldn’t respond with, “I have a right to my own opinion.” While it’s true that we have our own opinions, we should test those opinions with God’s word, with what is moral and just. Ask yourself if it is an opinion that is based on love, or if it’s about selfishness or not wanting to change and have things your own way.
We cringed at the video of George Floyd that has been seen across the world. But racial injustice doesn’t always look like a man dying. Everyone should be able to agree that the action of the officer charged with his death was wrong, disgusting, and immoral. But chipping away at the very soul and rights of another human being day after day, year after year, decade after decade is also wrong, disgusting and immoral. Do we disregard the fact that African American mothers have to tell their sons to act differently than their White friends because there’s a high likelihood that one group will be seen as a threat while the other will not, regardless of their character or behavior?
All of us must think about our lives, thoughts, prejudices, and the change we need to make individually.
God bless you, my friends! Together we can, and we will change the direction, arm in arm, as one.
Let our conversations be gracious and attractive so that we will have the right response for everyone.
Teach us your ways that we may live life and treat others like you have asked us to do. Amen.
Be in Full Voice, Exercise Agency, and Extend Grace
Words from Dr. Adren Wilson,
Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor John Bel Edwards
I was asked by First Lady Donna Edwards to share my written reflections on the horrors of the last weeks and months as African Americans – Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and others – have senselessly been killed by those charged to protect them and the resulting protests across the country. As an African American man it is hard to fully express the emotions I am feeling all at once, which include anger, frustration, sadness, and despair, so I decided that the only way I could make sense of all of this for myself is to reflect on a couple of defining moments and influences in my life as a Black man.
I will forever be shaped by my journey that began in rural Louisiana, and forever shaped more by the color of my skin than any other influence in my life. Personally, having grown up in the 1980s in extreme poverty as a Black man in rural Louisiana with a single mother and four younger sisters, with no running water or indoor plumbing in the home, and going days and nights without food, I understand the importance of the American dream. The hope the American dream offers is that every person will be worthy of respect and live a life full of opportunity, peace, and prosperity, if they only just work a little harder, and educate themselves just a little more. However, it only took 30 seconds the first time I was called the “n-word” or when I was face down on pavement with officers standing above me with guns drawn for me to realize that, regardless of what I do to educate myself, for some I would always be a second class citizen living in their nation-state. In the face of that I remain forever grateful for my African-American mother, teachers and mentors of all races who dreamed for me until I could dream for myself! Unfortunately, they would never be able to dream away the harsh realities of growing up as Black man in America.
LOUISIANA FIRST FOUNDATION
Yes Mam, No Mam, Thank you Mam = Teach MAM!
Preservation and upkeep of the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion is done primarily by donor support and fundraising. The historic and beautiful building and grounds reflects our great state and all of its unique history and beauty. Please consider supporting this endeavor through purchasing from our online store, joining our Circle of Friends, or sending a donation.
Women’s Health Blog
Empowering Women for Wellness
by Kimiyo Harris Williams, MD
Reclined in my deep crimson chair, feet up on its matching tufted leather ottoman, on this relaxing late Sunday afternoon, I reflect on the current state-of-our nation and the world. I breathe, watching the raindrops fall from the grayish-white sky, seeing full branches on the trees wave and the blooming lavender petals of my Agapanthus blow in the rhythm of the wind, and think of life’s rhythms. Inhaling the sweet aroma of fresh spring air and wet grass through my window, slightly ajar, I ponder, “What a difference four months has made?”
At this moment in time, the “simple” things mean so much. It is a time to reflect and consider the experiences and relationships that impact our lives. As we focus our attention on women, I reflect on a woman of great importance in my life. It was late-March of this year, in the midst of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was practicing self-care, enjoying a few minutes of live Instagram music, when I received a call. My friend’s words are unforgettable: “I am at the hospital. I am having trouble breathing, and I have fever.” I remember her weak voice so vividly. The music stopped instantly.
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA Making a Difference
Brooke It Forward Foundation
The Brooke It Forward Foundation celebrates the birthdays of children served by Louisiana’s Children Advocacy Centers (CACs). With the blessing of a young girl in Kentucky who put together the first “Birthday Boxes,” Brooke It Forward assembles the essentials for a birthday party in a shoebox-sized container. The boxes containing cake mix, icing, plates, candles, and so much more are gifted to each child near the time of their birthday.
6th/7th English Language Arts Teacher
2020 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year Finalist
The last couple of months have been a struggle for many Louisiana families. For me personally, not teaching in my classroom everyday doing one of the things I know I was created to do has been a challenge. I miss my students. I miss my coworkers. I miss my church and family.
Dr. Tim Johnson
Northeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery
Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs
The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs operates five veterans’ cemeteries located across the state offering a final resting place of honor for Louisiana’s veterans, their spouses and their dependent children. The cemeteries are tranquil featuring beautiful grounds and a covered shelter for committal services.
Blogger, Owner & CEO
H Kyle Boutique
Tia Whittington is a blogger and the owner and CEO of H Kyle Boutique, a boutique that focuses on women’s apparel and custom items. Tia never thought that she’d see the day where she would be living her and her mother’s avid dream – owning a storefront. In Tia’s younger years, she and her mother, Martha, shared a passion for shopping. As an only child, all of Tia’s Saturdays were filled with ripping and running the streets of Baton Rouge for a day of shopping with Martha that always ended with dinner. Saturday shopping quickly grew to be their beloved tradition.
Something To Discern
The First dogs are enjoying
summer at the pool.
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Delery has lived there all of her life except during undergraduate school and a brief stint in Seattle, WA. She is a mother to four boys, ranging in ages from 21 to 16, and they are the heart and soul of her life.
After graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications, she went on to receive a Masters in Non-Profit Management from Louisiana State University. Her volunteer work has mostly evolved from issues that have affected her personally. Actively engaged in disability rights advocacy, Delery has testified numerous times in the Louisiana Legislature regarding issues that affect persons with developmental disabilities. She served as the chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, worked for seven years directing regional advocacy efforts and is a graduate of Louisiana’s Partners In Policymaking.