Lupus?! A wha dat?!

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Category: mind on shuffle

What will we learn?

In September 2001, I was a tenth grader. I remember wearing my black and silver jersey, shiny black jeans, Raiders hat and And1 Moneys. I sat in the back row of French class and remember thinking this is the bluest sky I’d ever seen. Completely cloudless. A few minutes into class I remember the confusion of looking at that blue sky and hearing the worst thunder I’d ever heard.

Once we returned to school, my French teacher began to teach us about surrealism. We read French writers wrestle with this dream like state where the mind protects the body from reality. As we are in another reality altering event, I want us to take care in the lessons we learn from this. In 2001, we had an opportunity to learn about the love of our neighbor. We had moments where our smallness taught us about God’s bigness. Those lessons were momentary and faded in comparison to the ingrained lessons we kept. We kept the lesson that assured us that security is more important than privacy. We kept the lesson of fear. We kept the lesson that encouraged us to view the world through a lens of mistrust.

With this crisis we have an opportunity to love in a timely way. We can get closer even as we are social distancing. Let’s write to each other, send each other playlists, and create tournaments in video games. Let’s call our elders and make sure they are alright. Check on those of us who are always isolated. Let’s learn love.


I don’t write as often as I should. 
Life bends in a peculiar and isolating manner at times. 

Mountaintop moments are great but remind you that you cannot bring everyone with you. 

Not everyone can relate. 
It’s popular to call 2016 a disappointment.

It was a year full of challenges but I’ve had worse years. 

Must be uncomfortable for the person who privately thinks this is the best year of their life. 

As we get ready to start 2017, my prayer is for stillness. I don’t wanna feel scattered and whatever goals arise will require focus. So for now, God bless you, rest well and may 2017 draw you closer to God and the fullness of Christ’s love. 
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

Support Youth Summer Arts Camp In Crown Heights

I feel like I am finally exhaling. I am relieved.

This is true in part because I just finished my first year as a Special Ed Teacher. Teaching is truly an exhausting and challenging calling but I feel like the relief I am experiencing right now is tied to the joy I get when I think about the past year.
This morning I sat with Brianna and talked about how this year was a faith walk. Last May, we experienced the birth of Coltrane, graduation from seminary and moving to Brooklyn all within one week! We were running before that time and we’ve been running ever since.
In preparation of our move to New York, we prayed with close friends of ours who were also having a child. (Their beautiful daughter was born a week before Coltrane). We prayed for the health of our children and that I would be able to find employment in the city of my birth.
As we prayed and conversed, my friends continuously raved about their church and how much they thought Brianna and I would love it there when we eventually moved back home. That first Sunday at Trinity Grace Church Crown Heights was surreal. I’d talked about coming home for years but being a part of this church sealed it. We worshipped in a school blocks away from where my family first lived when they came to the United States; a stone’s throw from where my grandfather ministered at Trinity Baptist Church.
I wanted to hit the ground running in terms of involvement. Youth ministry is the foundation of our church. I play basketball with young brothers from the church regularly as part of our “Youth and Family night” program and Brianna and I co-teach on Sundays. It is a joy to be in this community and a privilege to see our mentees become leaders.
Our church has an initiative to provide a Summer Arts Camp to 70 kids this summer. We need to raise $40,000 in order to make this happen. Please visit this link and help us serve.
Much love and God bless,

I’m hurt. I think I’ve always been.

I’m hurt. I think I’ve always been.

It first hit me when I was singing on the choir. The Children of Hope were a main attraction every Sunday. We stood in our robes, the pride of our parents’ eyes. One Sunday another child asked me, “Where’s your Dad?” I knew he wasn’t there but never thought about why.

I first spoke to my father on the phone at the age of five. I remember the conversation was brief; he told me not to take orders from any woman. Years later, I learned that our conversation was followed by my grandmother telling him about himself, “Yuh wutless!” she cried. I hope it’s not hereditary.

Every birthday, in spite of my mother’s best, oscillated between bubbling sadness and a fight against solemnity. Happiness was slippery. Accomplishments were punctuated by the absence.

Middle school taught me the importance of appearances. I learned to say my parents were separated even though they never married. I fashioned my father as a farmer, man of the people, whose agrarian will and political mind would usher in a new era in the postcolonial world.

In eighth grade he sent me fifty dollars a few times. Each time I felt rich and allowed myself to have pride. We would speak on the phone frequently, conversations ending abruptly when the credit ran out. I finally met him in person that summer, spending the whole day together, laughing with both parents, feeling complete.

I would not see him again until the summer I turned sixteen. I met so many people, good friends of his, who were surprised he had a son. I left Jamaica and was sure that this was going to be our new normal. Phone calls were frequent but still ended abruptly. He visited the next summer when I graduated high school. I realized the depth of my grandmother’s love when she behaved herself and sat next to him at my graduation dinner.

College would be another silent period in our relationship. He was always on my mind. Every accomplishment, any moment of success, filled with the reminder that he was not there.

I would not see him until I got married and I have not seen him since. Life moments have brought us together. We had a good run of phone calls after I nearly died. He called a couple times after my son was born. I had a lot of hope that my own fatherhood would make us closer, give us something else to talk about. Admittedly, becoming a father has made me angry. A younger me made excuses for him but now his negligence is unbelievable. I look at my son and think, “How could anyone not do this?” How could anyone feel the weight of responsibility and not press in? The thoughts spill my rage.
I don’t like to think about this often, much less talk about it. I worry that no matter how right I am, my silence is unforgiving. So I pray. “Lord, I’m hurting. I think I’ve always been.”

Quiet nuh!

I should probably be doing something else (like work) but longhair….

I laugh when my students hear my instruction and protest. “So does everyone understand? Are there any questions?”

“This sounds like work!”

It is.

They (the infamous secret government that controls us all) say that if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. I have found truth in that. A cornerstone of my theology and worldview is that God intends for us to enjoy life.

Life is to be enjoyed. Truly. And when you are locked into what you’re supposed to be doing THEN you get that fulfillment which allows you to never work a day in your life.

But as Bob says, “the harder the battle, the sweeter Jah victory”.

I have a tough time teaching Steinbeck. I get why Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men are American classics. I would even entertain a notion that Steinbeck wrote with a prophetic voice in his time. But when my ninth graders call him boring, I can’t disagree. I remember being so bored by Grapes of Wrath that I wrote my final paper on the half I’d read. I even ended it with something cheeky like “who knows if they’ll ever make it to California?”

My English teacher was a good sport and said it was certainly an A paper but as I’d only read half the book she could only give me half the points.

Merry Christmas.

As bored as we are, a bigger issue to me is our study justifying their misogyny. Our book discussions always had somebody calling Curley’s wife a thot or students being incapable of seeing her perspective.

During a discussion where we confronted the issue, another teacher blamed rap for the misogynistic views.

That annoyed me though.

Misogyny is older than the Bible. Rap didn’t start it but it carries on tradition (like country music, movies and general society)

Sometimes the mountain seems insurmountable and I hear temptation tell me to look elsewhere. There has to be somewhere where my gifts and talents are appreciated. I can do so much more with a greater platform, it says.

But I am content in this stage because I recognize the journey and little interest in forcing fate before God’s time.

I get frustrated but then I look back.

I remember the hospital bed (it got better).

Leaving Trinity (it got better).

Living with my in laws (it got better).

Returning to Richmond (it got better).

So now, no matter the obstacles, difficulties and certitude that evil wants to destroy you, I can be reassured that the One who got me out of the hospital, kept my Beloved and I, and blessed us with the lil fella has not forsaken us and has no plans to.

As Paul shared in 2 Corinthians:

We  are  hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we  are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Enjoy the day my friends. Tell any doubt or insecurities, “Quiet, nuh!”

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Living for the City

manchester-city-fc-6Following footy was only a matter of time.

6 year old me got a soccer ball from my uncle in ’94 and I kicked it for years. Cousins and friends would have one on one matches where gears were constantly switching between offense and defense. Competition was fierce.

We kicked that ball into oblivion.

Didn’t give much thought to soccer over the years. My first love was #gettingbuckets and when I wasn’t on the court I was playing American football, baseball or practicing my sharpshooter.

I remember when I was in middle school, soccer came back into my mindset. The Reggae Boyz were poised to make noise in the World Cup (unfortunately more likkle than tallawah) and my gym teacher gave me props for my dribbling. Playing soccer, even though I called it soccer, made me feel in touch with something. Every game felt like deja vu but I couldn’t call it. I had not been there before.

I spent several weeks with my father in ’03. It was great to be in Jamaica again and being there took me completely out of my comfort zone with sports. No one in Portland was tryna play basketball, football (as my father was quick to correct…maybe adding a “real” before football) was the game of the land. In the multiverse of sports I had found the other West 4th. This cage was an open field where men gathered for pick up. The competition was nothing to ramp with.

My introduction to Davidson College came from African brothers who hosted me. Brothers from Ghana, Botswana and Ethiopia showed me hospitality and we played FIFA and tried to watch Premier League on a laptop. In college I continued the practice of caring about soccer a whole lot when the World Cup came around and then pretty much forgetting about it for three years.

I continued to dabble. From showing up in Little Brazil with my homemade vuvuzela to combing through websites with hopes of finding a fly jersey (Shouts to the Czech national team joint I bought in Prague). My fortunes would change going into the 2014 World Cup. I had begun watching Premier League on Saturday mornings when my beloved went to work. (True story: Whenever I watch soccer now I immediately smell pancakes.) It was refreshing to watch a sport simply for the aesthetics. I had no team to ride with so I was not tripping off every win or loss. Games were there for my pure enjoyment.

But I’m a sucker for story. My instincts taught me not to rock with Manchester United. I had already denounced a team from my youth (who I will be lowkey supporting this weekend!), the Dallas Cowboys. Living in a world where one is a Yankees AND Cowboys fan is just unacceptable. I had to choose and Jerry had to go.

I really love the color blue so on a visceral level I felt a connection to Everton. (Riding with Chelsea made me feel like a poseur for some reason, iono.) My man Tim Howard playing keeper had me intrigued so I paid extra attention whenever they were on.

Part of me wanted to find a squad that was really trash so no one could accuse me of bandwagon riding.

But nah. I’m a diehard Knicks fan and a Jets sympathizer, I’ve got enough heartache in my sports life.

Conversations with my Dad have always been choppy. I think in my mind we had to talk about feelings, reconciliation or other parental things (whatever those are). He isn’t really bout that life. And rather than pulling teeth I realized we’d do best to just talk as men. We share an unreasonable love for music and sports so that’s where we set up shop. And as much as I love the New York Knicks, my father had fallen in love with Manchester City.

He talked about the grief he’d gotten from friends as they suspected that he was a waggonist which he vehemently denied. No matter. I found hope in MCFC as common ground for my father and I so City found a new fan.

It was not love at first sight. I found myself looking at Manchester City games in the same way I look at college sports. I did not want to merely cheer for the team. I wanted to know the players, appreciate what they bring to the game. I needed reasons to care about each match. Premier League is a party that has been going on long before I got interested. And as I’d experienced whenever entering a new niche, it was important for me to feel like I was a part of the story. I wasn’t tryna dabble in cultural tourism, I was here to stay.

As it is MCFC and I came together at a good time in my life. My beloved Knicks are straight biodegradable, I’m getting ready to move back up top where I’ll be able to watch Man City’s farm team (I kid, I kid), and I’m a few weeks away from knowing whether my beloved and I are having a boy or a girl. People don’t believe me but I really don’t have a preference. I’m just looking forward to the little fella/little lady sitting on my lap Saturday mornings and carrying on tradition.

Brian Mooney

Educator, Scholar, Author

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