A LIE IS A LIE

A lie is a lie whether you re-name it, change it, deny it, shift the emphasis of it, blame the victim for it, publish it through the media, sign an executive order for it, get others to endorse it, have evangelicals biblicize it, promulgate it as truth, have the leader repeat it over and over, and even have victims begin to believe it. It is still a lie annehenningbyfield 2017

One of the most insidious aspect to the perpetual assault on people of color, and women is the continuation of myths and lies about who we are, how we became in this culture, and the justification of injustice and violence against us. While we have come to expect lies from racists, fascists, white supremacists, conservatives, religious ignorants, and political bigots, it does not make it more palatable to hear the president of these United States of America tell us we are responsible for our conditions. Despite assertions that we are not smart enough to be angry about the lack of health care, educational opportunities, jobs, police violence, urban violence, mistreatment in every system including the penal system; we are indeed angry about our conditions and your refusal to acknowledge your culpability.                                                                                                       

The effects of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and bigotry of any kind are not lies. What is a lie is your fabrication of what happened in Charlottesville, Dakota Pipeline, and all of the living-while-Black and Female murders. Shifting focus and blame on someone else is as old as the beginning of the world. In fact, it has its genesis in the very evil that is in the world.                                                                                                                                              

Adam said, “I am not guilty because of this woman you gave me.” Women have been beaten and killed because someone said, “she made me do it”, “she deserved it”, and “if she hadn’t…” When we ran away from slavery, we deserved the beating. Looking at a white woman, we deserved the lynching. Re-defining ourselves to be Black and Proud, renaming ourselves as African Americans, electing a President who is Black, or fighting for injustice all resulted in our punishment and death. The bottom line has always been it’s our fault that we are Black, poor, woman, Latina, and Native American.

We have reclaimed the truth and will not accept your versions anymore. The Confederates were a group of men who divided the country and declared war to maintain the system of slavery, and forced us to fight to maintain our own slavery. Their statues are not worthy of honor no matter how you spin the narratives and call them heroes. It’s a lie.                                                                                                                                
There are injustices that will take longer for us to conquer, but believing the lie is not one. We are reclaiming your re-shifting and announcing that your creating new language doesn’t change the lie. Mocking us does not diminish the lie. Viciously assaulting us and calling us liars doesn’t stop the reality it’s a lie and all who defend it are liars.

 

I’m Free*

The necessity of my sanity, the level of my disintegration causes a re-assimilation of me. I no longer yearn to be in order with you if that means out of order with me. Your definition of self, identification of perfect, standard for wholeness holds me hostage to your declaration of my totality. My dissolution is over no more conformance to an impossible normalcy or acceptance of other’s idiosyncraticism of my color, hips, and hair. My beauty, belief and behavior are all now self-defined. Desiring no recognition at my rejection, I am finally in order with myself and with God which may make me out of order with you, others and your lies.

*The Existence of my Existence: ©2007 annehenningbyfield

 

 
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THANK GOD FOR THE HELP

ellis

On July 12, 2016, I woke up a Bishop in the AME Church.  My husband and I decided to rest and reflect before we went down to the assembly.  We both turned off our cell phones to focus on the significance of the moment.  I finally started to get dressed and there were several messages on the phone. Before I could read them volunteers were knocking at our door. The Episcopal Committee had announced a couple of times that I was to meet with them.  It seemed that everyone was calling to let me know to report. 

In a moment of panic, (one does not make the Episcopal Committee wait) the volunteers assisted me in preparing to report and got me out the room as soon as possible.  When my interview was completed and I could finally breathe, the learning principle I had given to licentiates and pastors for so many years was clear for me.  In the AME Church, everyone reports to someone, even Bishops.   Reporting to and timely arrival where you are required to be are essential steps in success.

For a brief moment in my exhaustion and overwhelmed state from the election, I forget and was awakened to the fact that I could never forget.  The blessing continues to be that there were, there are and always will be people to help when we are sensitive to their love and support.

All day on July 12, 2016, I found loving, working, giving people who support the ministry of the episcopacy.  They made sure that we got our pictures taken, knew where the refreshments were, and walked us through the first day.  When I resisted their help, they reminded me it was their job and they loved it.   They were there before election, during the election and now as I serve as Bishop of the 16th Episcopal District.  I am grateful for their steadfast, unmovable, consistent support.  

Much like the high number of family and volunteers who supported my campaign for whom I will be forever grateful; I thank God for the support teams in the African Methodist Episcopal Church at all levels.  Without them, logistics of meetings, documents, refreshments, transportation, our ability to perform and so much would not effectively be completed.  I was grateful to my team then and now for the expanded the team as the work has expanded.   Thank you for making the first year a blessing.

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BET AWARDS: Keeping It Real!

 

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Last night I posted on Social Media that I didn’t understand the music of the BET Awards. It drew lots of responses mostly criticizing the music. The posting was not criticizing the music but rather my lack of understanding some of it. I think I was not able to relate because of age and my lack of consistency in listening. Yet the passion, thought and creativity I did understand.

 

This morning I was reminded of the sermon I preached only a few hours before the posting. In the sermon I said: “When I was a teenager my parents and their generation thought what they knew about church was gone. They were watching young people wearing afros, and girls wearing pants to church. Young people shouting Viva la Revolution, changing their names and saying Jesus was Black. We were singing church songs my parents didn’t like. My father heard me singing O Happy Day chastised me and said that trash would not land in his house. I was 15 when I got my first afro my mom took me to the hair stylist and put a relaxer in my hair because she didn’t believe in natural hair. My music went from bubble gum sweet to the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron, and then hip-hop. But the very thing our parents hated become a mainstay and helped usher in a new perspective. When the song Precious Lord first came out, many members of the church hated it because it sounded too bluesy. Many people didn’t sing Amazing Grace because it was written by a slave owner. Some of John and Charles Wesley’s songs tunes were bar songs that they were converted into hymns; and Charles Albert Tindley’s music was originally disdained by the church. While we don’t have to embrace all of what we are hearing and certainly the lifestyle, I wonder if we realize how much we sound like our parents”.

I still don’t understand a lot of the words, and some cases, just don’t like the songs or the androcentrism. However, I appreciate the flow and the creative artistry. Moreover, I am grateful to Chance the Rapper and others who use their music, like so many in my generation, for the healing of the nation. Understand some of it or not, thank you for keeping it your real.

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

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My birthday is June 18.  This weekend I will celebrate another year of life as I have done for so many years, associated with an AME Meeting.  All of my life I have shared my birthday with Father’s Day. It has been a pleasure since I was born on Father’s Day, and my father was in the pulpit during my birth.   No one, I am sure, saw that divine connection.  God gave him his last child on Father’s Day and every year there was combined acknowledgement.   No one knew that the day I was born, I would continue the Henning legacy to preach the gospel.   

Celebrating my birthday on or around Father’s Day has never been a problem.  My husband shares love and gifts with me, and I do the same.  It is a family celebration where we purchase two cards.

Beginning in 2015, I  also remember the massacre of the Emmanuel Nine.  This is a more sobering thought than giving thanks for fathers.  This is not a celebration but a commemoration.  Confirmed in my spirit is the uncertainty of death. Further confirmed is the diabolical, inhumane, community of evil that bases its hatred on color, race, gender, sexuality, gender identification, race, religion or anything evil creates.  No matter how righteous we try to live our lives, we are only a breath away from death not just from accidents but premeditated murder.   Yet, also confirmed in my spirit is the abundance of love, strength, and power in the collective resolve of a people who refuse to bow down to fear, oppression, and to evil in any form. 

Every time I see the collective pictures of Emanuel Nine,  I grieve their senseless deaths, and the pain their families must continue to endure.  But I thank God for The Rev. Clementa Pinckney,  Cynthia Hurd,  The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton,  Tywanza Sanders,  Ethel Lance,  Susie Jackson, Depayne Middleton Doctor,  The Rev. Daniel Simmons, and Myra Thompson.  We will work so their individual and collective legacies will continue, healing will prevail in their families’ lives, and our fight for justice will be one day victorious.

This weekend I celebrate another birthday not only to enjoy my life, but to fight for life for others. Happy Birthday to me.

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Uncommon Evil Requires An Uncommon Response

 

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For those who don’t know what to do,

Uncommon evil requires an uncommon response,

No longer ask what must we do,

Just do again-

Black, White, Immigrant together again

Latino, LGBTQ, Native American and Women, together again.

Uncommon malevolent toward the

Poor,

Marginalized,

Sick,

Differently abled,

Starving children,

People hurting,

Demands uncommon action and reaction.

Delayed justice

is denied justice,

is justice not to be.

This is not an ordinary fight.

This cannot be an ordinary response.

Wake up,

Gear up,

Strengthen up.

Get past tired,

Stunned,

Traumatized, and

maximize the anger,

utilize all our resources,

from whatever source, they come.

Do it again.

Empower others to do it again.

Release all of US to do it again.

Pray again, march again,

Confront again, fight again,

Boycott again, write songs and poems again,

Vision again

whisper our strategies again,

cook again, walk and drive again,

house the activists, again,

Get energized again.

Learn social media,

Get a smart phone,

Take videos,

Confront your legislature,

Win an election,

Do it all and more again!

United in unity we must be

to dismantle the evil against

Freedom, Justice and Equality.

NOW!

annehenningbyfield (c) 2017

The Year Begins and Ends With Praise

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Giving praise
for the ability to
live in the midst of oppression,
breathe through the contamination of injustice,
laugh when so much is unfunny,
finding strength to forgive others and myself,
recognize that failure is not permanent,
their hatred does not make me hate
nor does it make me passive,
to work to implode the diabolical
acts of violence against every one
that is thought different,
while learning everyday to appreciate faith
family, friends, good company, human partners
and the divine
to keep living,
breathing/laughing while
envisioning and achieving
visions and dreams.
This year ends in praise and begins in praise to GOD.
In 2017
wishing you the gift of faith
the blessing of hope
and ability to envision and achieve
your dreams, liberation, justice, and human equality.
annehenningbyfield (c) 2016

 

Dare I Speak of Hope

The season of Advent is one to that requires hope, peace, love and joy. It takes courages to actively prepare to wait. It’s work and not passive.  Attach yourself to hope, it is the most empowering  action you can do this first week of Advent: Dare I Speak of Hope.    This poem was written for Dr. Allan Boesak in 2013.

Dare I Speak of Hope                                                                                         annehenningbyfield@2013

Dare I speak of hope                                                                                                                                    when hope unborn has died,                                                                                                            suffering cries out with no sound
screaming its pain.

Dare I speak of hope
to those who cannot speak,
full with tears as their food,
groaning in their strength
Living in despair

Dare I speak of hope
so hope may have its hope, until
Hope speaks for the poor’s sake
Tyrannical reign is defeated
Radical reconciliation is completed
the glory of the Lord is revealed
And injustice shuts its mouth.

hope