If Something Should Happen To Me…

How could I see the Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, the bell tower of Big Ben, the Berlin Wall, Neuschwanstein Castle, hiked the Himalayas, skied the Alps, visit the Grand Mosque before I ever saw the Golden Gate Bridge, Chrysler Building, Apollo Theater, and Grand Canyon in my own country?!  I talked to a German colleague who listed all the great sights of America he’d seen and I hadn’t seen a single one. Likewise, although he’d seen the wonders of the United States, he hadn’t seen wonders of his own homeland.  So, in my quest to see all 50 states, I’m headed off to Wyoming and Montana!  Yellowstone is just one of those places I’ve always wanted to go since childhood.  And, because my most adventurous friends are either starting their school years, deploying, or otherwise, pre-obligated, I’m traveling the Great North West alone.  Which is what prompted this post.

If something should happen to me as a result of Traveling While Black, please know…

That I am well aware that there is no guilt or shame in this world that God’s grace won’t cover. Christ was already crucified for anything I could have possibly done, so there’s no need to crucify myself. Plus, I have plenty of awesome friends and family that will talk me off a ledge and help me regain perspective.  Know, that I am not part of that 1% or so of black women who would ever commit suicide.
I have too much to accomplish and only a few years of this life to do it in.  There’s that Pulitzer Prize winning novel I’ve yet to pen.  There’s a story waiting to be written that will capture the experiences of those who are often overlooked in literature that will be a NY Times best seller, just waiting for me to write. I have Caldecott Medals, Newberry Awards, and Coretta Scott King Awards to achieve.
I have too many travel adventures on the books that I’m looking forward to.  I have nine more states to visit before I can blog about my favorite places in America!   I’m knocking out two on this trip, and plan to see the rest before schools in California start at the end of September. I’m looking forward to my rendezvous with my fellow freedom-defending cousins in Spain for New Year’s to see that Monkey Jesus painting that one of my friends described as “a finger painted self-portrait of Curious George!”
This is hilarious!
I’m finally spring-breaking in Peru with my favorite travel pals!  Then there’s Puerto Rico next summer. This is my super Spanish year! I am going to buckle down and finally read the Spanish version of Don Quixote that’s been sitting on my shelf next to my Spanish text book from college (darn UK Spanish department decided to change books and I couldn’t sell it back to the book store!). Plus there’s way too much of this world I haven’t seen and experienced. I need to see Taylor Swift in Singapore or South Africa. I need to honeymoon in the Maldives and spend bachelorette vacation in the Seychelles. My niece and I need to take pictures with the giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands. I haven’t held a Koala in Australia yet. I need a Parisian address at some point.  My great-grandma live to be 94. Her daughter is currently 90 so I do not think it’s too much of a stretch to think I should make it to 97. Even so, I’ve only got a limited time to be super active and hit up all seven continents. I’m not going to take myself out of the game before reaching my goal.
I look forward to all the amazing things I can do this school year. One year down as a professor and, after spending the summer with other professors at other universities I have new ideas on how to accomplish bigger goals.  But first, I’m going to have to toughen up. I can’t lower standards so folks can reach it. I can’t feel sorry for students as much (i.e. aw, you slept through my final…I’ll give up my break so you can take it).  I’m nixing the mass amounts of extra-credit I give. Last year, I made it rain EC points. Like 40 points worth and kiddos still didn’t get As! The students that already had the 117% in the class were the ones who took on the optional essay while the 79.5% students did nothing to reach the next letter grade. Students who don’t show up to my mid-term and final will get no sympathy from me anymore.  I am not grading essays over my spring break because college students turn their work in late.  I have to watch these scholars blossom and be there at their graduation…fighting back tears of pride.
I have a lot of personal, professional, and educational goals and prospects. I need to get published…scholarly work and fiction. I need to get more proficient at some languages.  Maybe I need to get published in one of those languages!  I need to be able to clear a 4 foot jump on a thoroughbred. I want to play T. Swift’s “Our song” on banjo. I’m still waiting to hear back from my dream university. I want to design, build and live in a mini mansion. I still have til October to get myself in bikini competition champion condition (probably shouldn’t have had that Oreo frappe this morning)!
Everyone who knows me knows I’m not about to tap out of this life without the opportunity to wear a legendary, alencon lace-trimmed, three-quarter length sleeve, scalloped, boat neck gown.  I’ll stand in the same little Baptist church in Kentucky where my grandma, mom, and I all were baptized and where both my dad and granddad received God’s favor in finding my mom and grandma. I’m like little Amy in Little Women when she says, “I don’t want to die. I’ve never even been kissed. I’ve waited my whole to be kissed, and what if I miss it?” Well, I’ve waited my whole life to be the “good thing” that someone finds and I wouldn’t end my life and miss it.
While I’m still on the fence on if I’m going to just spoil everyone else’s kids around me or make the life-long commitment to being underappreciated and sleep deprived, I still have the vision of standing up on a packed alter with generations of family and friends passing an infant down the line of supporters to his daddy who’ll lift the baby to the Lord while the pastor dedicates the child.  It’ll be just as Hannah did for Sam and the congregation’s hands will lifted all promising to help raise him up.  If not for my own, then surely I’ll have the opportunity to play a part in this important role for a friend’s child.
And if I do decided to become a mama (‘cus as a woman in an industrialized, modern, kinda democratic country, I get to choose motherhood…and yes…getting laid and becoming a mother are two separate decisions…and yes, I went political there) I’m not half doing it.  I’m going to attempt to field the starting lineup of the UK basketball team.  I mean really, lots of women are mothers but a select few get courtside seats in Rupp.  Even if I fall shy of that goal, if I can get my whole family together in church come Sunday morning I’d call it a win. I’m going to filling up a whole pew with mini gentlemen looking way too cute with fresh haircuts and dressed in little suspenders, vests, argyle, corduroy, and saddle shoes. When the pastor says “turn in your Bibles…” they’ll flip through the Baptist Hymnal and point to the words, pretending to read along because they are too little to know the difference.  And they’ll sit between me, who’s got baby girl #1 in my lap, and their daddy whose got baby girl # 2 in one hand and my heart in the other (yep, extra cheesy, you’ll live).  Both baby girls dressed in too much lace and too many ribbons and ruffles and with adorable white patent leather shoes. And I’ll wear a big ol’ church hat that blocks the view of everyone behind me (they too, will live).
The stuff I dream up tends to happen. I envisioned living in a flat in Europe and traveling every weekend and that vision was accomplished. I envisioned being a leader and that was accomplished. Like Elle in Legally Blond when she impulsively decides to go to Harvard law…stuff somehow has a way of happening when I commit to a decision.
I wouldn’t commit suicide and I’m not disrespectful.

I want to make it apparently obvious that I am not suicidal.  Even so, there’s a trend of blaming the deceased for their murder.  Don’t even consider that something I did lead to my demise. There’s a quote that’s gone viral that states, “telling black people to be respectful so they don’t get killed is like telling women what to wear so they don’t get raped.”  It shouldn’t matter regardless, but please know, I am respectful anyway. I grew up with old school, southern, military, non nonsense parents. I got this general respect and respect for authority thing on lock. I’ve slipped up and called my fitness trainer “sir” once when he told me go lift something, it’s just what you do.  I’m a responsible drinker and since I’m traveling alone, there will be no drinks on this trip). No drugs have ever entered this body. I don’t smoke.  I don’t curse.  My BFF, Megan, was once interviewed as a reference for me, and let me know she thought it was important to note that as a grown woman I still used words like, “hind-end, behind, and bottom” in place of using the word “butt” because I think it’s a bit too crass. Last school year, I accidentally deleted and entire document and my expletive of choice was a “Dog gone it!” through grit teeth. My boss, who is awesome but has been known to drop an f-bombs or two teased, “I heard you almost cuss in there.”  I might roll and eye which is my body’s natural reflex to BS. It would take a lot of focus to control it and sometimes the eye roll slips.  But if I’m cursing, I am under extreme duress.

I’m more cautious than usual while alone.  I don’t go out on the town alone. I am planning to hit up a rodeo.  Hopefully that will be a safe environment for solo women of color.  Hopefully I won’t get called names or have stuff thrown on me. I’m not confrontational, my impulse would be to flee a dangerous situation rather than confront it. Grabbing an officer’s gun wouldn’t be my go-to move when in distress although I’d like to imagine myself doing a Charlie’s Angel/Kill Bill-style round house kick if one was pointed in my face but realistically that’s unlikely. If anything I’d probably in shock I’m not being treated like a lady.  I follow reasonable instructions of officers but getting out of a vehicle for no reason is going to put me in serious distress because I’d fear getting raped.
If I end up in jail over some nonsense like Sandra Bland, I won’t fret paying bail. I can’t imagine I wouldn’t be able to handle it by a credit card swipe or a phone call to mom & pops.  Even so, I’d go Friendship 9 with it and let tax payers of the nation keep on paying my salary while I’m hanging out in jail saving money by having the tax payers of the town cover my meals and lodging. Racism and pride are expensive, but I shouldn’t be the one footing the bill for someone else’s issues.

I think that should cover the usual gamete of ways murder victims of color are usually blamed for their death. Unless I get surprised with a new, creative murder justification.

Oh, the self-defense clause?  I’m the same size I’ve been since I was 12 years old.  I am the size of a 12-year-old girl.  When Target has cute or cheaper stuff in the little girl’s section, I’m on it. Girls size 12/14.  I’m 5 foot 4.25 inches tall 120 pounds (prob closer to 125 but those extra pounds don’t matter). I’m known to smile way too much…even in formations. If someone is threatened or intimidated by me something is wrong with them.  I’m not coordinated enough to dribble and run at the same time, I’m probably not coordinated enough to cause you much harm.  No one at airports, parking lots, restaurants, sidewalks, malls, etc seem intimidated because they always seem to find me and have weird, awkward, or inappropriate convos with me and to tell me too much about their personal life. And “thug music”? No. The only music I’m taking with me is all 5 Deluxe editions of T.Swizzle (on CDs).  I might sing to her a little loudly but If asked politely, I’m likely to accommodate requests to turn her down. Then again she did make that song, “Thug Story” so she might count as thug music.  I can’t stop watching Luke Bryan sing with Jason Durelo. I wear that video out!  Too cute!  But Jason is a man of color so listening to his music might fall under listening to thug music and be used to justify my death.  Other than that, I’ll be listening to whatever comes on Montana radio which I’ll guess isn’t too diverse. Hope they play Drake, who is the half white, Canadian boy version of Taylor (Running through the six with my woes is the equivalent of a Twentytwo, that “you suck right now” song is a “We are never ever ever getting back together.” I’ll talk about that later…provided I survive).

Use these pics as evidence. This is not a girl you needed self-defense from? A friend recently described me as a “sexy goof.”  Not threatening.
If I do die before my parents, I want an epic homecoming.  Make it southern, make it military, and make is quintessentially OUR FAMILY. Dave, I appoint you to ensure my mama does not give me a tacky funeral. Just because I’m dead, doesn’t mean I’m classless.
No tacky traditional funeral flowers. Think pink peonies. Two big arrangements of them flanking a white casket (or you can turn my body into a diamond…that’s a thing nowadays). For the love of Jesus, proof read the heck out of the program. If my mom is too distraught to utilize that English degree of give it to my boss, nothing gets past him.
Have a cappella Gospel Choir feeling the spirit with a lively “I’ll Fly Away” and “Soon and Very Soon.”
Sing, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” in the style of Mahalia.  Have my sister sing, “Going up Yonder” and know I’ll be in Heaven shouting hallelujah just a little bit too loudly.
It would be awesome to have all three leaders:  Reverend Bishop from First Baptist Elizabethtown, Reverend Aiken from First Baptist Bracktown, and Pastor Huntley from True Divine Baptist in Montgomery (he’ll be entertaining).  Yes, open up the doors for salvation and if the spirit dictates, allow the opportunity for baptism, right there at a funeral. You never know when the next time someone will enter the church or if they’ll make it to next Sunday. Yes, this will be a long church session.
And yes, I want my non-Christian friends to be right there on the pews too.  And I want them to feel welcome and at home. No awkward, hateful, mean, rude condemnation in the preaching. I do not approve.  But if they still don’t feel comfortable even being there, be sure they know where to meet for the after party. Make it like a tailgate, barbeque style. With amazing food. Dad will handle the brisket, Karla will take care of the Mac and Cheese (this is a joke…have a backup ready). Shawn will handle the beans. Maybe a fish fry too. And let there be bourbon (and responsibility). Use my wedding fund to make sure I have a fantastic funeral (I was going to use the word “killer” in place of good here…but…probably not the best choice).

I want to be wearing that black & white A-symmetrical dress that I wore to Cathy’s wedding at my wake. But do not bury that dress, it’s much too pretty for it. Instead, give it to my baby sister cus she’ll probably be just as cute in it as me. Probably just give her all my clothes since she’s forever wanting to wear them anyway.

All the Single Ladies! Pair this dress with yellow wedges and purse. All three are in my closet.

Bury me in my cadet blues uniform (Not my good Captain one).  It’s still in the back of my closet.  Give my good uniform to my grandma to keep with the uniforms of all the other military members of my family. She could have a museum with all the different uniforms. If a wardrobe change is too much trouble just put me in whatever Kentucky Blue sundress no one wants. Lord knows I have way too many anyway. Or buy this one specifically for my funeral. Dad always said don’t go out and buy another suit for him if he dies, just use one that he already has…I don’t have that rule. Everyone should dress like they are going to a UK football game. Forget depressing black (unless you have a smokin’ LBD you want to get some use out of…but you’ll be in church and probably shouldn’t).   Wear sundresses or seersucker and sports coats. Dress like you’re going to Derby. Don’t mourn. Celebrate my spiritual ascent.

Lastly, the only way I’d want to be buried in my hometown is if I got to stay in the veterans section of the cemetery with my mom and dad having reserved spots nearby.  If not, send me to E-town, next to my great-grandma.  Or just turn me into a diamond. Fire the volleys and carry on. I think that should cover it.
Last bits of odds and ins


Such a sweetie! Love my roomie

Someone will need to get my dog, Memphis, back to Kentucky. There’s money in the bank to pay for that. Use the rest of the cash in the bank to send some high school students from Daviess County, Hardin County and Montgomery off to Paris and/or Stuttgart for the summer. Mom, hand select ones that remind you of me. Make ’em write an essay, profess their love of history, culture, and travel; let them be in band, run, dance, take part in theater and prove their countless hours of community service. Pay for their study abroad tuition.  I vote out of state HBCU (or of course, Kentucky) for Baby Belle and Baby Beau to go to school. Dan, sanitize my electronics for parent consumption before handing them over to my mom. Dad, I have an unused United Ticket. It’s yours, you’ll have to call. If media is involved, make sure they use the profile pic of me in my UK tee —That’s a crowd favorite. Or the pic of me, my mom, and Elizabeth in our uniforms at Liz’s Academy Commissioning. Or of my mama crying at my promotion. Don’t use my official AF photo. It’s out of date and my hair was curled too tight that day.

*Please consider the state of our union when I feel more compelled to write funeral arrangement plans before I go to Montana and Wyoming than I did before deploying.
If anyone wants to express outrage, for the love of God, do not ask, “What would Martin Luther King do?”  MLK, Jr. is dead because he tried to be a Switzerland in America and that does not work.   Instead, ask what great American Warriors, General William T. Sherman, General James Mattis, and the honorable Malcolm X do. Kumbaya is not the American way. It’s not even English and ‘Muricans hate it when folks don’t speak English. I’m one of the many Americans get all hoo-rah’ed up over Toby Keith’s analysis of the American way.  Putting some boots in some arses gets stuff done.
Some think I’m over reacting. I sure hope so.  But Tamir Rice’s life was taken in 2 seconds for being a child. Taylor Swift pens songs about being in love at 15, but fifteen-year-old Andre Green was killed last weekend along with 12 others…just in one weekend. I  recall, Matthew Shepard was killed in Wyoming because of the hate in someone’s heart.  I identified so much with Sandy Bland, when I read about her I though, dang, she sounds like me. Then my sister texted saying the same woman reminded her of me.  And maybe that’s what it will take, is for the majority of America to see themselves in the victims.  I mean, I get how it’s hard for most Americans to see themselves in a black, teen from the hood of some town no one has ever heard of.  I get it. That teen is in the “out group.”  He’s an “other” for many. But for me, in him I see my future son, my future husband, my dad, my friends, and my family members. When the media kept emphasizing a black teen’s 6’4″ height (and omitted that the police who killed him was just as tall) I couldn’t help but to think of my dad who is also 6’4″.  I thought of my curly-haired dimple toddler nephew whose daddy and granddaddy are both 6’4″ and he probably will be as well. And simply because of his height and skin color, someone will forget that he was once our family’s pre-mature baby boy and be afraid of him.Hopefully, with as vivid a life as I’ve lived, if something should happen to me, there will be something about me that others can identify with and think, dang, that sounds like me and we ought to put a stop to shoot now, ask questions later of Americans. There is an art and strategy to protest. But the best protest would be one that would impact enough centers of gravity that would incapacitate the will and capability to take a life. Some have suggested that if I fear attack, just don’t go. But if I don’t go a get to experience the beauty of my own country, the hateful people of the world win by keeping me from experiencing all that life has to offer.
*typed on an iPhone don’t be too critical of editing.
**Since identifying oneself anyway you see fit is the thing to do now, I self-identify as the fiancé of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. If something should happen to me, please refer to me as such.
Oh Dwayne, What’s that you say? You want to smell my cooking, first thing in the morning, for the rest of your life? Not a problem.


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