“To err is human, to forgive is divine”.
I have heard this saying so much it’s practically singed in my brain. When you’ve been hurt it can be difficult to forgive. Some people even say that most victims find it easier to not forgive. It’s human to be resentful and angry to those who have hurt us. Holding onto that pain and anger is like a security blanket. Sadly, that security blanket is a slow killer. To truly move past the pain, we must forgive.
Forgiveness is actively overcoming the feeling of resentment or revenge for the person who has done wrong actions. How and when you chose to forgive is relative. Some of us take longer than others to tap out of the negative emotions. Also, some people feel like one action is more unforgivable than another. Others may feel like forgiving that person may encourage the wrongdoer to do offensive actions repeatedly. There may be times where the transgression is so severe that it causes a person to think differently about someone, never being able to forget what they did to them.
Putting yourself in a place to forgive is incredibly crucial to your psyche. It is never easy to forgive someone who has wronged you in some way. People don’t forget betrayal, but forgiveness is still mandatory. It is especially hard to forgive someone if what they have done has extremely hurt you emotionally or physically. Forgiving is not weak and doesn’t make you look like a doormat. This act symbolizes love for yourself.
If you are being forgiven for something you did, be sure to SHOW why you deserve forgiveness. Asking for and being bestowed forgiveness is just step one. Show how grateful you are for being forgiven by involving the forgiving party. Words are powerful, but actions say so much more. Holding back forgiveness leads to more pain for us than the offender, and the practice of forgiveness is not a one-shot deal; it is a life-long discipline.
The state of America is in shambles. The number of mass shootings from 2016 to the present are absolutely alarming. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen murdered 49 people and mortally wounded 53 others in Orlando, Florida. Since that cataclysmic night, over 200 more mass shootings occurred; and that’s just the number for 2016! A staggering 273 mass shootings have ensued in America.
According to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, an average of more than 100,000 people are shot every year in the U.S. Also, an average of 289 people are shot. The Brady Campaign also reports that Eighty-Six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention. One person is killed by a gun every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week.
Many people are losing their lives behind senseless acts of violence, freak accidents, and, unfortunately, a constitutional right that allows Americans in all 50 states “to possess firearms for self-defense.” I believe everyone should know how to defend themselves, but some people don’t know the difference between defending and destroying. How many tragedies must we face before action is taken against guns?
Now that I have presented the statistics, let’s ask ourselves why Congress hasn’t taken action to find a solution? There are moments I get anxiety about being in a crowded area because I’m afraid someone is going to spray bullets across the room. We shouldn’t fear for our lives going to movie theaters, nightclubs, concerts and churches. This asinine violence is incomprehensible. I respect the Second Amendment and the rights of individuals, but we absolutely need to take action and be cautious of those we allow to carry firearms.
Every morning I wake up to the news. It’s difficult not to begin my day without Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Michael Strahan and the rest of the “Good Morning America” family. I wouldn’t describe myself as a “news junkie” yet I still find it important to stay abreast on current events. Between our local news stations in Oklahoma City and the reports coming in from around the world, there are certain stories that stick with you. Amidst the deadly hurricanes and intractable wildfires (my thoughts and prayers are with the victims), the exposing of Hollywood film producer and movie magnate, Harvey Weinstein, and his history of sexual abuse have me reeling.
Some of Hollywood’s most revered actresses have gone public accusing Weinstein of sexual assault. Social media has erupted with think-pieces and emotional confessions from sexual assault victims using the tending topic “#MeToo”, a campaign started by Youth activist Tarana Burke in 2007. America Ferrara, Gabrielle Union, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie and a host of other A-List actresses have broken their silence on sexual abuse and the effect it has on women and children. These revelations are so powerful and inspiring that I’m seeing stories shared from friends and family on Facebook.
The stories being revealed by sexual assault survivors about their abusers are harrowing. Ever since the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein came to light, the floor for this conversation has been opened. Many women, and men, have been shamed or threatened into keeping a secret that they don’t want to keep. Sexual abuse, assault and exploitation happen every day to people of all ages, races, and gender. According to Twitter, the #MeToo hashtag has been used over 825,000 times since Sunday.
Sunday, Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted:
She couldn’t have been more right. The confessions haven’t ceased since. When I’m listening to the radio, it’s the first topic of conversation. Have we looked over sexual abuse for so long that we’ve turned a blind eye and ear to it?
Sexual violence is an epidemic we must take more earnestly as a society. Acknowledging and understanding sexual assault is the first step toward working to end it. The list of effects of sexual violence has on a survivor are endless. We can advance towards a future where this reality ceases to be. Our community’s ethical/moral principles should be evolving toward paying growing attention to the emotional aftereffects of all sexual encounters.
The topic of mental health as it pertains to Black people is one that is rarely discussed. I needed to conduct some research prior to writing this to further educate myself on the matter. Over the years, I have had family and friends suffering from a mental illness that they weren’t aware of. It wasn’t always discussed openly amongst family. After perusing multiple articles, my eyes were opened to a bevy of information.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Service, African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than non-Hispanic Whites. Life-altering events like the death of a loved one, illness; and “psycho-social” issues such as unemployment, crime in our communities, and racism just to name a few, contribute to psychological distress. With everything going on in our world today, just imagine how many of us are suffering mentally. A lot of us are suffering in silence because of how we were raised. In some cases, we don’t feel comfortable disclosing how we’re feeling because we don’t want to hear “just pray about it” or “you just need to man up”.
Everyday we’re losing people due to suicide because they don’t know what else to do. By not investing in our mental health and the mental health of those closest to us, we do ourselves a great disservice. The topic of mental health in regards to Black people is so taboo and the stigma is damaging.
A piece in Ebony magazineA piece in Ebony magazine featured Simone Sneed, Director of Development and External Affairs for Inwood House. Sneed has also suffered from bipolar disorder. She considers herself “episode free, med-free and hospital free for over three years”. In the piece she credited her mother with investing in her mental health. What stood out to me was what she said about why the Black community approaches mental health the way we do:
“Historically, African Americans have normalized our own suffering. During slavery, mental illness often resulted in a more inhumane lifestyle including frequent beatings and abuse, which forced many slaves to hide their issues. Over time, strength became equated with survival and weakness (including mental illness) meant you might not survive.”
I have heard this before and it still makes me shiver when I think about it. What our ancestors endured all of those years ago has evolved into a self-harming way of thinking. As a strong and resilient people, we have to learn how to lean on each other more. Having a mental illness is not a weakness. If you or someone you know feels like they need to seek professional help, don’t take it lightly or be embarrassed. This is not a “White person’s disease”, it affects us all. We are entitled to our feelings, good and bad. No one’s feelings are invalid. We must address this issue head on and end the stigma of mental illness.
The history of the Donnay Building stretches far beyond my 29 years of life. The building was commissioned by architect and its namesake, Matt Donnay, in 1948. Over the years, this landmark became home to many well-known establishments like the Patio Restaurant, the Drunken Fry, and the fabulous Hi Lo Club. Sadly, just a few months ago Braum’s announced their plan to demolish the iconic Donnay Building and the building where Classen Grill is located. Many Oklahomans are outraged and are doing everything they can to counter this plan.
In July, protestors gathered in front of the Donnay Building to protest. Generations of people showed up. I have read accounts from people who ate at the Patio Restaurant and others who have had their first drink at the Hi Lo Club. I absolutely love Classen Grill. The food is delicious and the staff is always welcoming. I had no idea that they’ve been operating there since 1980! I have passed through Classen Circle all my life and I always wondered why the ugly building in the middle was so popular. As an adult, I have enjoyed Classen Circle favorites like Edna’s, SpeakEasy, and of course, the Hi Lo Club.
A good friend of mine introduced me to the Hi Lo Club last year. I had never heard of the place, but I really enjoyed myself and met some pretty awesome people. Soon after I learned that the Hi Lo Club is more than an average “hole-in-the-wall”. This establishment has served as a place of refuge for LGBT individuals since 1956 and is historic to the entire OKC community. To wipe away something so special to so many people is unethical and contemptible. To make matters worse, there is another Braum’s that already exists on NW 17th and Classen, less than ten minutes up the street from the Donnay Building! How many Braum’s locations do we need? The food really isn’t THAT good and they always seem to be out of Butter Pecan and Rocky Road!
I’m asking all of you reading this to help us save the Donnay Building and Classen Circle. This space means a lot to so many people in our community, especially those who work there. So many compassionate and hard-working people would lose their jobs and plenty of warm memories. Braum’s isn’t going anywhere, and I don’t believe we need yet ANOTHER location here in Oklahoma City.
For more information on how you can help save this historical landmark visit facebook.com/SaveClassenCircle. I will also provide information on my Facebook page facebook.com/LandonsViewsOn, as well. Or you can contact Braum’s directly at 405-478-1656 or send a message at www.braums.com/contact-us/general.
Life can get a little crazy. Situations, good and bad, have a tendency to pop up without warning. I’m grateful for the good times and my hardships make me better and stronger. Some people seem to be born with the ability to overcome setbacks with relative ease. The rest of us work very hard to prosper.
Either way, the struggle to succeed isn’t always easy. Every day we wake up is a challenge. All of us have goals we want to accomplish and dreams we want to see realized. Ask any successful person “at the top of the ladder” and they’ll tell you that the battle never ends. We have to fight tooth and nail to triumph. The people who manipulate you into thinking you’ll never reach your goals are irrelevant. Use these naysayers as motivation. The more they deny your ability and doubt you, show them how wrong they are. Nurture your relationships with friends and family. When you hit a rough patch, don’t shy away from other people. Accept help from those who love and care about you.
When people are weak, they will say and do anything to take out the strong. Misery loves company. With a strong mind and resilient heart, you can and will overcome. Being true to yourself and fighting passionately for what you believe in will get you to wherever you want to be in life. God didn’t promise us a destiny we will never see. It’s up to us to reach that destiny. The road may be long and full of obstacles, but once we reach our destination, the journey will have been totally worth it.