Are you a leader?


Written by PresidentELLA

I saw Jesus last night; I was walking up Courtlandt at about 11:30 at night when he poked his head out of his cardboard house and watched me walk by with this wide, hungry eyes. I looked down at my shoes — the patent leather on the Gamma 11s looks fly even and especially at night time — and silently apologized. “What if that was God?” I asked myself, to which I self-replied, “it was.” If the bible is right, God is everyone and if God is everyone, then I am God, too. I had to tell myself/God, that I am afraid: I am afraid that when I help my neighbor, he’ll either take my help for-granted and never learn to feed himself, or take advantage of my kindness and hurt me in return. I apologized to God and promised to have faith he would keep me safe and understand my decision not to give the homeless man money.  Instead, I’ll find other ways to help feed my less-fortunate neighbors. Instead, I want to give them something they can’t use to buy drugs. Instead, I kept my hand on the switchblade I keep in my purse. 

I’m my mother’s daughter. I’m my brother’s sister.  I’m my sister foe (so her I love harder). I’m also the daughter of a Cuban Marielo who was originally arrested for following his mother’s wishes and “stealing” from a neighbors’ abandoned house. I’m the granddaughter of a Dominican officer was was imprisoned for planning a revolt against Trujillo. I’m the descendant of a Cantonese businessman with who left China because his father remarried and found himself in the Dominican Republic. The revolutionaries in my history have culminated in a woman like me. When I think of leaders. I think of those the likes of Malcolm, Mandela and Malcolm. Jesus. The main thing they have in common is that they were hated more than they were loved. The evidence in that is the life that was taken from them. All of those men (expect Mandela) were murdered. They tried to kill Mandela in the worst of ways — they tried to put him in a box and destroy his soul. I believe a leader will give their life for whatever cause they are working towards. I also believe the the goal of a leader is always more than money. Unfortunately, the way most people pick leaders is in deciding if they want to end up “like” that person. While being Jesus sounds good, I understand why it’s hard to be him, living in a cardboard box, testing the goodness in the souls of his neighbors. 

I hope to be a leader. I don’t think I’ve made enough of an effect on the world to be labeled a leader on wikipedia or something (that’s a sub at the entire world), but I think that I am a leader because I know I want to make a difference and I will make a difference somehow. They say that any expert once started out as an apprentice. I’m sure Malcolm and Martin sat alone thinking their “crazy” thoughts until they found others who felt the same as they did: followers. I know that Ms. Harriet Tubman traveled much of her route to the North alone, in order to guide others: followers. I’ve been considering what makes a leader in this day & age aside from how many followers you have on Instagram. Unfortunately, the internet is fairly real. If you are able to be found somewhere, those who support you will be there with you. My fear [with this blog] is when people get to learn more about me, because we may agree on some things, but not all. I think it’s fine, but some folks can’t handle that. I think a leader is someone who can move forward whether they have the support of the crowd or not. But… I also think that those who come with pitchforks yell for your demise louder than those who come with kindness, wishing for your success. 

I feel like a leader because of how alone I feel, but how much support I get in return. I have a difficult time deciding if I want to be understood or if I don’t give a fuck. I don’t give a fuck more than I do, that’s for sure… but it’s still frustrating.  Luke 5 details when Jesus found his first disciples. It wasn’t until he had this back up that “the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.” Still, with all of this attention, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16).”  I haven’t read enough Martin or Malcolm (yet) to give you the quotes I hope to find, but I know those men must have withdrawn to solitary places, if not for their own sanity, I would assume for the safety of those they loved. I think of Malcolm by the window, holding his gun. Of Martin in a Birmingham cell with nothing but the newspaper that infuriated him to write his own letter in the margins of it. I believe that leaders are not only fueled by those who support them, but that which forces them to feel alone in the world.  

I have many purposes. I want to encourage people to educate themselves, not for profit, but for the betterment of society as a whole: we should know better. I want people to love the circles they fill in on application forms for more than the financial aid they might qualify for. I hope we can learn that the roots of our existence affect us but do not define us — and that each of those circles deserves the equal respect. I want women to both feel and be equal according to the rights we have fought for; understanding that we are still not equal since a man still can’t give birth, therefore we need to acknowledge, love and own our womanhood (and expect our male counterparts respect it too, at all times). I want brown girls like me to love their brown skin and their brown eyes — well, we should all just love what we see in mirror. I hope for a more confident, resourceful and respectful world. Personally, I want to be the artist we’ve all been looking for — someone who loves their art more than they love spending their fans’ money. I think we’ve gotten so used to “supporting” people by giving them our money — with promotional t-shirts and hats and everyone having a clothing or cosmetics line or a GoFundMe for whatever they don’t feel like going to work for. Life would be a lot easier if we were content with that which we earned. 

 A leader is someone who has much more than financial success, but financial success is also part of it. I feel for much of the world because when your basic needs aren’t met, and people younger than you have nicer cars and clothes than you do… the only thing you want is a bit more cash. We are far passed the days of being able to ride into town on a goat and being invited to dinner. Even I need inspiration from people I know can feed themselves. (Viola Davis is my hero because she’s from my city, and she gives back.) I see “happy” people in the club who take the train home to nothing. I know “influential” business people who tip-toe one bedroom they rent in a cramped apartment. I know my last post might have been a bit much, but I’m made by and for leaders. I meet plenty people who love me and hate me for my confidence. I think you have to be strong as me to handle me. I don’t expect everyone to be capable but I pray that one day they can be. I wish I could walk into a room and be loud and confident, but no one likes that (to be honest) and that’s why they want you to be humble. So I’m quiet in person, not because I’m scared, but because the real me might scare you.

 For my taste, it takes far too long to convince people of your greatness, but you can’t dim your light at any cost. Wait.. I suppose my purpose is to be more realistic than that… your light will dim, but you’ve got to have the strength to recharge or replace whatever it is that makes you shine. I write these posts to be real about the obstacles and to show that there actually isn’t an easy route. The introduction of things like instagram and snap chat make us think that we know everything a person is doing or has done, but individuals control the content they want the world to see. No one posts pictures of themselves they don’t like. We all have our bad days, but the point is to make sure that those bad days are just bad days. The other day, I side swiped a car in my parking garage and the $400 bill that results makes it a bad day. But… I also volunteered with 3rd graders for BehindTheBook… so that made it a great week. We have to try and counteract the bullshit the outside world can throw at us and make it a better world internally, even if only for ourselves because we take that energy and put it into the world. We’ve got to take care of ourselves to teach other people to take care of themselves. Positive vibes. A leader gives his or her life entire life for their cause not only their cash but mostly their soul. A leader doesn’t just show you his/her successes, but tries to help you see and avoid the obstacles if you want to be on that same path. A true leader is someone you trust to advise you of the better path, if you decide to follow. But… there are those who choose not to follow, and that is fine. The fact that someone chooses an alternate path doesn’t make you or me leader less of a leader. Taking the difficult path doesn’t make anyone more of a leader. Encouraging others to avoid the difficult path, if you know a better way, is the actual way of a leader, in my opinion. You have to be honest about what is better for us. 

I’m only a leader if you say so, I guess. The most important thing I think a leader does is maintain his/her humanity. I haven’t written in a while because I was trying to understand interpret my personal humanity, and since I just threw all my feelings at you… I’m going to shift focus on some recipes or something lol. I think the leader that is needed in today’s world, not only does what is needed, but what they want, and what they want should be to inspire, encourage and understand (even if it’s understanding that you don’t understand. I believe that’s called “acceptance” or “world peace” or something). Because I’ve been blessed enough to be able to write and share this and have even one person read it… I hope you get to do just what you wanna do, too, and be a leader in your own right. 

Just my thoughts & what I’m feeling at the time.. 

-ELLA


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