Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dear Mrs. O (A Farewell Letter to Michelle Obama)

Michelle Obama / Parade Magazine

Dear Mrs O.,

I watched your farewell interview with Oprah Winfrey a few weeks ago & held back tears: tears of sadness at the thought of your forthcoming departure from the White House, and tears of joy for having had the privilege of experiencing what, just a few decades ago, was thought to be impossible: a black family in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Now, knowing that in a few hours, we will have a new First Lady, I felt compelled to bid you a proper goodbye.

In your farewell interview, one particular quote stood out: black women, better be able to [handle opposition], because there's so much that comes at us all the time, every day in subtle ways, that [it] could tear your soul apart if you let it...

Despite all the opposition that was thrown at you these past 8 years, you stood, strong and unbroken, exuding elegance, dignity, & #BlackGirlMagic in everything you did. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson-Obama, girl of the Southside, you are living proof that beside every great man is an equally great (maybe even greater) woman. Your self-awareness is absolutely refreshing. You have taught young women like me that, among other things, we have the right to speak our minds, the right to be both beauty and brains, and most stylishly, the right to bare arms. You walk so confidently and unapologetically in your brilliance while simultaneously celebrating and nurturing the brilliance your husband possesses. The way he speaks of you in his speeches makes it clear that he honors you, valuing not just your love, but also your friendship. You truly are his confidant and number one supporter.

Today, your final day in the White House, social media outlets were flooded with tributes to your family to reflect on this iconic era in our nation's history. You and your husband have made hope, excellence, greatnesseven something as great as the White Housea tangible dream for Black Americans. President Obama wasn't perfect, but his bipartisanship, his confidence, & his unwavering resilience in the face of adversity outweighed his mistakes. Because of him, little Black children (especially those who have ONLY known a Black president) believe that anything is possible. Because you stood poised so firmly beside him, he was a better man, and thus, a better Commander-in-Chief. Because of you two, little Black boys and girls had a clear picture of what to aspire to. We believed that we could change the world. As far as I am concerned, no President and First Lady will ever compare to you. You were the example of class and grace that America needed, an example that we will never forget. So, although there will never seem to be enough words to adequately express my gratitude for your family's sacrifice, simply, sincerely, thank you.

With love,

Siobhan McIntyre

A black millenial who believes she can, too

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Waiting for Superman (feat. Chris Brown and Keri Hilson's "Superhuman")

In light of the Chris Brown/Soulja boy fiasco that's been in the media lately (*sigh*), I decided to revisit the music of the '07/'08 Chris Brown that every young girl loved, to reminisce on happier times. In my nostalgia, I was reminded of how much I loved his Exclusive album, specifically The Forever Edition, which includes the track "Superhuman," featuring Keri Hilson. In the duet, Chris and Keri sing about how they used to be depressed about life until they met their significant other, who made them feel superhuman. I never thought about how much this song relates to the supernatural nature of Godand how much it relates to parts of my own testimonyuntil I analyzed the lyrics.

Chris Brown, Exclusive: The Forever Edition / Amazon

Verse 1 [Chris]:


I have been crying and crying for weeks

How'd I survive when I can barely speak

Barely eat

On my knees

Testimony time: I graduated from high school in 2012 in the top 10% of my class. I was a straight A student, and when I got accepted to Wake Forest University (which ranks 27th on the list of the nation's best colleges), I thought I was invincible. I had heard how rigorous Wake's course load was, but I thought, I got this. I did it in high school, I can do it again. No sweat. When I got there, though, I found that I had bitten off way more than I could chew. I had plans to major in biology, so I doubled up on sciences both semesters freshman year, and the A's I was used to getting in high school were suddenly C's and D's. I found myself measuring my self-worth according to my GPA, and between extracurriculars (I was in multiple committees in Student Union all 4 years) and countless hours of studying (and a few chai tea lattes a week), I barely got any rest. I was exhausted and disappointed in myself, and I wasn't giving God enough of my time. My prayer life was almost nonexistent, and when I did pray, I felt like He couldn't hear me. I was burned out. I started to wonder if maybe I wasn't cut out for college.

Verse 2 [Keri]:

But that's the moment you came to me

I don't know what your love has done to me

Think I'm invincible I see

Through the me

I used to be

In the spring of my sophomore year when it was time to declare my major, I was still struggling with the sciences, but in the midst of all that, I rediscovered a love for something I really enjoyed: writing. No matter how hard I studied for tests in chemistry and biology, I still wasn't seeing the results I wanted. Writing, however, was different. It came to me almost as easy as breathing. The sciences felt like work. Words weren't work for me. They just flowed. I was torn: my heart said writer, but doubt found its way in. Everyone around me said English wasn't a financially stable major, so I majored in biology...and I was absolutely miserable. So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I prayed. Lord, show me where I should go. You know my heart's desire. Where You lead, I'll follow. Then I heard a voice say, I was waiting for you to realize you can't do this on your own. You need Me more than you think.


You changed my whole life

Don't know what you're doing to me with your love

I'm feeling all Super human

You did that to me

A superhuman heart beats in me

Nothing can stop me here with you

Super human

Super human

I was reminded of two scriptures, 1 Peter 5:6-7, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you," and Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (NIV). That was the problem: I was trying to be superhuman. I got so wrapped up in what I thought I wanted, so busy trying to prove to myself (and others) what I could accomplish on my own, that I forgot where my help comes from. I forgot to lean on God. When you're full of yourself, God can't fill you—and you can't feel Him. He had to humble me in order for me to really appreciate Him.

When I started praying more, reading my Bible more, and giving God the worship and credit He deserved, He showed me what could happen when He added His super to my natural. His love showed me that I was more than just numbers on paper, and I excelled. In fact, I made Dean's list 4 times throughout the rest of my undergraduate career—and gave Him praise every single time. My Christian walk completely changed, and I graduated from Wake Forest in May 2016 with a B.A. in English.


It's not a bird

Not a plane

It's my heart and it's gonna go away

My only weakness is you

Only reason is you

Every minute with you I feel like I can do


College taught me a lot of things, but the most important thing it taught me was that I'm not great. I've just been granted great grace. My intelligence, my writing ability, my accomplishments, everything that I am is because of God. Without Him I am nothing, in Him I have everything, and through Him I can do anything. His strength is made perfect in my kryptonite.

Watch the "Superhuman" video below:

Friday, January 6, 2017

#LoveIsLouder: My Thoughts on the Kim Burrell Controversy

Gospel legend and pastor Kim Burrell was supposed to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week with Pharrell Williams to promote the film Hidden Figures, which features her song "I See a Victory," but after video emerged of a sermon she gave condemning the homosexual lifestyle, her appearance on the show was canceled. In her sermon, Burrell said, "That perverted homosexual spirit is a spirit of delusion and confusion and has deceived many men and women, and it has caused a strain on the body of Christ" (The Guardian). As expected, DeGeneres, who is openly gay, and other members of the LGBTQ community were offended, and a slew of LGBTQ celebrities and allies, including some of Burrell's gospel music contemporaries, spoke out against her anti-gay comments. I love Kim Burrell's music and I personally do not condone the homosexual lifestyle, but I have family members and friends who are on the LGBTQ spectrum. I tried to think about how they'd feel about this. After reading a plethora of articles covering the controversy online, I've realized how important it is, especially as Christians, to check our rhetoric. In efforts to reach others, it's not just what you say, but how you say it.

Ellen DeGeneres and Kim Burrell (Getty Images)

First of all, Kim Burrell called homosexuality "perverted." No one that I know of, regardless of sexual orientation, would respond positively to being labeled a pervert. That word, in addition to the negative connotations associated with "delusion and confusion," is weighted in stigma, and would especially be a turn-off for someone who is probably already feeling ostracized by the Church in general, a Church that constantly reminds them that they are committing the 'ultimate sin' by being gay. Most members of the LGBTQ community I know who were raised in Christian households stay out of church for two reasons: fear of judgment and fear of Hell. Some of them don't know God at all. Either way, the majority of them do not feel delusional or confused, and they certainly don't feel welcome in God's house. That needs to change.

According to Leviticus 20:13, "'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads'" (NIV). The New International Bible calls homosexuality "detestable," and the King James version calls it "an abomination," which are (obviously) anything but positive; however, the verse also says "their blood will be on their own heads" (NIV). In other words, those who have committed the sin will be the ones held accountable for it. On Judgement Day, each individual will have to stand before God and give an account of the sins they've committed. As a collective body, the body of Christ, we are held accountable for how we represent Him. We are not God, so we should not expect anyone to have to answer to us or agree with everything we believe in. As Christians, it is not our responsibility to hold sins over the sinners' heads. It is our responsibility to love them with the love of Christ.

1 John 4 (NIV) shed a lot of light on this issue for me. Verse 4 tells us, "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." The spirit of God that is in us is greater than the spirit of homosexuality that is in the world. The spirit of God must be present in order for the things that are not of God to be eradicated, but watch this: Verse 8 says that God is love. Why is this so important, you ask? If God is love, and He's in us, then we must also be love. Verse 9 reads, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." The Word says God sent his Son to die for US, not just the holier-than-thou Christians, but also those who are still dirty, even after multiple washes (AKA all Christians!), and those who don't know God at all. We hear sermon after sermon about what goes against God, but we need to do better about acting on what He stands for. Actions speak louder than words.

God doesn't discriminate, and neither should we. I'm not saying we have to agree with how the LGBTQ community lives, but it is not up to us to punish them or make them fear the Church. The Church doesn't (or at least shouldn't) do the judging. God does. 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment" (NIV). They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, so if we love God, we have to love them. We are all God's children, made in His image, but we all have stained glass mirrors. In order to help sinners fix their hearts, we must first fix our hearts to see them as humans separate from their sin. We should not try to justify the sin itself, but rather to change our approach to it. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Instead of pointing fingers and condemning others, we should strive to help them see God as the approachable, accepting, forgiving, merciful Father that He is so that they will come to Him and be saved.  We show them who He is by reflecting His love in our own lives. Together, if we speak and act love loud enough, maybe one day, we can drown out all the noise.