Be Brave: When looking Different Makes You Fear for Your Life

Written by, First Lady Michelle Obleton

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Meet Shamede, a young boy with a disease which makes his skin stand out in stark contrast to his friends in Africa. Shamede’s condition is known as albinism (albino). People with albinism lack an enzyme necessary for producing melanin. It renders those affected mostly devoid of pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes. Albinism comes with many medical complications and in Africa, it come with a terror that may lead sufferers as victims of violence. Albinism is considered a sign of evil spirits and could result in having one of your limbs hacked off or worse, death at the hands of a witch doctor. Shamede is one of nine children living in poverty. His parents are vulnerable because they feel the social stigma attached to their son. Every day since he was born, Shamede’s mother repeats two words to him, “Be brave.” While it is obvious Shamede’s mother loves him, she does not say “I love you” repeatedly; but she does repeatedly say to him each day “be brave.” She understands if her son is going to survive in a world that sees him differently and even threatening. Being brave is the one ingredient that will help him survive. The concept of being brave goes deep into one’s soul, and ultimately affects one’s actions. In America we live in a “Shamede world,” where black skin is viewed as different, despised, and even threatening. Violence against black men and some women is everywhere in America, just to name a few: Emmitt Till, Rodney King, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Clifford Glover, Stephon Clark, Betty Jones, Philando Castille, Walter Scott, Atatiana Jefferson, Rekia Boyd, Corey Jones, Briana Taylor, Sandra Bland, Botham Jean, John Crawford, Oscar Grant, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others. Just writing their names brings tears to my eyes.

When I think of George Floyd and Eric Gardner crying “I Can’t Breathe,” it reminds me of our Father God who gives breath to all mankind. Giving and taking breath is a power that belongs to God, not to a controlling policeman with knee bearing down on George’s neck like an animal until he died, while three other policemen stood watching in silent consent. All were sworn to uphold the law. All perverted it.
So what do we do as black American citizens of this unjust nation?

IMAGE SOURCE: The Lyrical Elitist

 We pray as if it all depends on God, then we get involve as if it all depends on us.
• We speak up by serving on life changing boards. Community organizations, school boards, police boards, political boards. And any other board or agency where our voice can be heard. Your voice is a lifeline for change. Use it often!
• We step up by helping others see the importance of using their voting rights. Our ancestors died trying to vote. We should live bringing the vote. Find opportunities to offer voter registrations in your community. Help seniors and others get to the polls to cast their vote.
• Instead of fearing for one’s life, teach our children to be brave for one’s life. Not foolish bravery, but bravery knowing first, your life matters, and You have great potential to contribute to this world.
The word of God says it best: Be strong, Be Brave, Be fearless, You are never alone (Joshua 1:9). This should be a daily mantra for you to claim. Let’s start today, as you navigate through the ups and downs of this life, “Be Brave!”

Prayers & Love,

Michelle Obleton

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