During the last few months, we have witnessed so many events that have caused us to become exhausted mentally. We have seen the entire world come to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19; an officer murder an African American man on the streets; Confederate monuments taken down, hundreds of thousands of people protesting all over the world for equality of minorities; but most importantly, how people respond to differences of opinions. It appears that people are unable to maturely accept the truths of others without insulting and/or attacking the individual.


When the Country learned about the passing of Representative John Lewis, I began to think about his journey. I learned while in seminary school, Lewis joined the Freedom Riders who organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and demonstrations. He eventually got involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNCC) which encouraged voter registrations of Blacks in Southern states. His truth was not accepted by others which caused him to be beaten, spat upon, and arrested.


This reminded me of my quest of spirituality. I grew up thinking God used fire and brimstone to get me if I made a mistake. I learned God was not controlling, but One that gives me free-will and any consequences I received were due to the Universe responding to what I put in it. I was learning so much while searching and developing my relationship with my Higher Power. As I was reading more, I wanted to share this new information with my mother and grandmother. I wanted to bring them with me on my journey. When I talked about my findings, my maternal leaders became angry and proceeded to tell me that I was listening to trash. I was crushed. I was devastated. I only wanted to share something new with them. I only wanted to share the Good News because they gave so much to me. These women verbally attacked me in the worst way.


What I learned from this experience was my new information directly contradicted everything they knew and was taught. All the years that my grandmother read her Bible and found solaces that got her through the early 1900’s; I was telling her the God she knew was a lie. The God that was passed on to my mother would not forgive if you weren’t obedient. So my mother handcuffed herself to situations to please her God, but she was at peace with her decisions based on her teachings. My revelations shook every fiber of their beings. I was basically saying; all they knew and held dear was counterfeit.


The reaction of my mother and grandmother are the same reactions that are being displayed by so many American citizens, today. It was the same reactions of White Southerners to John Lewis. What people have known all their lives are now being challenged. People are clutching onto the teachings of their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and teachers and standing in its fraudulent premises. How could people who said they love them, possibly lie to them? Would a person intentionally live a life based on archaic principles? How their untruths were introduced is not the problem; its people’s inability, unwillingness and/or refusal to let them go of these beliefs that promotes dissention within a society.


What if a person’s truth means you go to school, get good grades, go to college, and get a good job? What if a person’s truth means to go to school, get a diploma, get a job, and get out of your mother’s house? What if a person’s truth means to go to school, to get two meals, try to stay awake at school because you had to take care of your siblings because your mom works two jobs? What if a person’s truth means go to school, go to college, find a husband, become a housewife, and taught to tolerate his infidelities to keep the lifestyle? What if a person’s truth means to drop out of school, runaway, find a man to take care of them because a relative was doing things to them, so they can really sleep at night? What if a person’s truth means betraying people to get ahead because of fear? What if a person’s truth means to hurt people because they were rejected or told "No"? What if a person’s truth means to agree with everyone, no matter what it may be, because they want to be liked and accepted? What if a person’s truth means to exploit people and situations because they want exert power due to low self-esteem or previously bullied? For each individual, their truth is like breathing air. No thought required. Each person did what came natural or taught. No one’s truth is the same, but what happens when a person’s consciousness wakes up?


In the recent months after George Floyd and COVID, the heartfelt truth has become a necessity like air. People are no longer willing to hide behind the veil of lies, deception, and falsehoods.


No longer are people willing to be mistreated. No longer are others willing to stay silent to abuse and hypocrisy. In the words of John Lewis, "When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something."


Now, people are doing something. Employers are terminating employees for their actions. Judges are ruling against elected officials for their actions. Citizens are rallying together to use economic power in displeasure of discrimination. Confederate monuments are being removed. Organizations are helping those to free themselves from bondage (battered spouses, sex trafficking, etc.). People that were invisible are becoming beacons of light. People that were mute are now exercising their voices. People of all ethnic backgrounds are working together for a better society.


In closing, although, my mother and grandmother did not fully comprehend my God; they loved me. They learned that the Higher Power I developed a relationship with made me a better person. I made a conscious decision to seek my own truth; not the one my mother and grandmother gave me. I say that to say, so many Americans are operating on someone else’s facts. It is time for many to have an open-mind and muster the courage to find their own realities. After all, people locally, statewide and nationally must realize that just because something exist does not mean it is acceptable or truth.


"Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America." — Rep. John Lewis.


Janell Sinclair Bland-Morgan is a community activist and a native of central Virginia. The opinions expressed in this column are her own.