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Perception of Blackness
Speaking only for myself, I want to express what it has been for me to be black in America.
As far back as I can remember, whether on TV or in real life, racism existed. I’m not sure what to think when people say black people can’t be racists, because unfortunately I grew up with a dad who talked against other races. He didn’t care most for white people and lectured us many times about slavery and oppression brought on by, “the white man”. My dad was born and raised on the dirt roads and woods of Holt, Alabama, the deep south. He was one of 13 children. His mother died when he was only thirteen years old and he was put out to fend for himself soon after. I, however did not take on his beliefs but decided to love or like people according to who they are and how they treat me.
Fortunately, my other five siblings and my mom, are not racist either. Both my brothers dated outside of our race, with my late oldest brother and his wife giving life to beautiful biracial children. But let me go back. While in high school, my best friends included two of the funniest, kindest white kids I ever met, Micah House and (the late), Sherry Geer Delacruz. Although Sherry is gone, I still love both of them with all my heart thirty plus years later. As an young adult, I became a nurse and there was no room for bias. I treated all my patients and their families with dignity and respect.
When I had children of my own, I tried to teach them not to see color when they were young. But I knew, the older they got, I needed to teach them to love their Blackness. It was important for them to love themselves in a world where they would be treated different. When social media first put a spotlight on police shootings of an unarmed black man, my kids were at the end of high school. So consumed with school, prom, graduation, and family hardships, sadly, we heard it but didn’t focus on it. When the murder of Trayvon Martin was caught on video and his murderer was set free, my kids were angry and in tears. We had to sit down and talk about what that meant for them as teens going into young adulthood.
Before they were old enough to drive we taught them what to do if they were ever pulled over by the police. Unfortunately, a few years later, my nephew, son, and niece were pulled over no more than a block from my sister’s house. My nephew and niece were visiting from Colorado and he was unfamiliar with the narrow stretch of road he was on. They were so scared, my niece was in tears but thank God, they knew to keep their hands where they could see them, said yes sir and no sir, follow instructions, and make no sudden moves. When we arrived on the scene, the cops were running the kids social security numbers over and over again. After being asked who we were, we were told to remain in our vehicle. A minute later we were surrounded by three loads of police cars. They were searching for something to charge one of the kids with but they were clean. Long story short, they ticketed them and after detaining us all at the scene for over an hour, and being very rude, aggressive, and unprofessional, they let them go.
Needless to say, we had to have a deeper conversation. They were terrified, angry, and confused as to why they were so mistreated by those who were supposed to protect and serve. Their first time being stopped by the police and they were racially profiled, treated like criminals, and disrespected. Til this day, my son does not like driving anywhere. I recall having a conversation with him about the murder of George Floyd and he said, “They’re just going to keep getting away with it.” So sad.
For that reason alone, being black in America is difficult at times for me. But you can either hide away or live unapologetically in your truth. I choose the latter! God is such a huge part of my life. I think I would live in total fear if it weren’t for my faith in the Lord. We know faith without works is void. I work everyday to be a better version of the person I was yesterday. Life as a black business woman is more accepted today than in 2008 when I started my journey with Val’s Gifts of Warmth. I’m not saying that systemic racism is gone or being black in America is easy but I will say that with our culture taking a front seat in today’s society, it has gotten easier to lift our heads and show the world our talents, achievements, and success. I plan to continue to succeed and make my mark on this world as a black women in America. Not for me but for my children, grand children, and future generations.
Thanks for reading!
#beingblackinamerica #beingablackwomaninamerica #mypoeticlife #mypoeticlifebook #perceptionofblackness #vfurrmstheblogger #valeriefurrcollins #valeriemariefurr
Nostalgia is a funny thing. Like dejavu, it hits out of the blue and can make you warm and tingly inside or breaks your heart all over again. About a month ago, I was driving, going to pick up my son from work. In my rear view mirror I saw a pale blue car that instantly threw me back to the mid 1990s. I found myself smiling at the memory of my first car, a pale blue, 4 door, 1990 Ford Tempo. My mom and I didn’t know much about car shopping but we went out and found my first disaster, I mean, my first car at Tucker Motors in Tuscaloosa, Al.
I was so excited to have my own vehicle. I washed it inside and out and gassed her up. Four road tests and a tearful breakdown in front of the state trooper later, I was licensed to drive. I remember feeling so grown up. I was barely 20, in college, had a reliable job, and now had my own car. I named her Betsy Blue.
The nastalgia I felt today as I kept that blue car in my sites was so refreshing. It reminded me of a time when I was young and free. I hadn’t had my heart broken, didn’t know the agony of moving away from home for the first time, the sting of chronic pain and fatigue, nor the heartbreak of losing a sibling or a parent. I rarely even got sick and it appeared figuratively, that everything I touched turned to gold.
I loved being able to pick up and go. I remember taking my mommy to see my dad in the nursing home. On my off days, she and I would leave the house around 9 am and go walking in the mall, do a little shopping, eat lunch and then go home. I just wanted something to take my Mommy wherever she needed to go and be able to get to work without having to walk home at midnight. I loved my Ford Tempo.
The moment took me back to my youth; when I was just discovering who I was and what life was all about. I wish I could have stopped the driver of that pale blue car and thanked them for the amazing memories that came streaming down, flooding my mind and heart with goodness and joy.
You may be wondering what made Betsy Blue my first disaster. Well old Betsy Blue ended up being a lemon. She broke down a month or so after I got her. The car lot refused to take her back and I refused to pay for a car I could not use. A little spat over an involuntary reposition came about when I had a tow company leave her on their lot but don’t worry, it all worked out. I never got another car from Tucker and was blessed with good driving cars since then. But I’ll always remember Betsy.
Property of Valerie Furr Collins
#mypoeticlife #poetry #blog #personalblog #blogposts #betsyblue #firstcar #fordtempo #1990fordtempo #1990’s
Thanks for stopping by my blog page. I really appreciate you taking the time to share my passion for writing.
You are your parents, ancestors and God’s perfect creation
You are many, many, many generations in the making.
You will live a grand life full of all the childhood wonderment that lies in your eyes
All of my greatest hopes and dreams beat to the beat of your heart
You can light a thousand sunsets with the brightness in your eyes
You alone hold my hearts content in your tiny hands
I look at you and see all that is good in this ugly world
I see the key to happiness embedded in your melanin
Your sweet laughter drowns out all the unpleasant noise of life
Your tiny warm embraces washes away anything unworthy in me
I have loved all my life but never knew a love like this
You have brought me more joy and hope in your four years than I have known in my almost 50.
You are my lifeline, you are my will power, you are my heart, you are my lineage.
One day you will read this and you will know just how big love can be
You will know what each word means and how they come together to describe the beauty that is you
You will know in that moment there is no greater love for me than you
For now, know that my heart leaps at just knowing you love me today as big as your little heart can. For now, I relish in hearing you call me Grandma. Each time I can’t help but to thank God that Mommy and Daddy’s Bug, GiGi’s CoCo, Gma’s Jellybean, my Beauty, Avianna Faith, YOU are ours
Love endlessly, Grandma
Copywritten 2022 #vfurrmstheblogger #granddaughter #poetry #poetry4thesoul #mypoeticlife #aviannafaith
6/8/22 Still Here
I miss you so much! At moments it feels like you’re still here but then the impact of remembering you are not is like a 2 ton truck. My heart breaks all over again. I started to get angry that you left me again, a few days ago. But then this morning after I dreamed we hugged and I cried and you told me it’s alright, it’s gonna be ok, I realized I can’t be mad at you for letting go. You didnt give up, you fought as hard and as long as you could, until you couldn’t anymore. I respect tf out of you for that! I just wasn’t ready TJ. The thought of you gone brings tears to my eyes because I didn’t get to say goodbye and I couldn’t and didn’t visit you like I should have while you were here. I just couldn’t stand the nursing home nor the fact you were there instead of well and home with us. I’m sorry I’m not strong, but TJ this here hurt me more than anything I’ve ever been through. And you know I’ve been through hell and back more times than I can count. I’m trying though. I’m trying to live in a world where you’re not physically here. I feel your spirit but even that hurts. I know you were telling me you were alright but I’m selfish with you because that’s not enough. I know one day it will be but today I just want my brother back. I just want one more chance to do right by you. One more chance to care for you, argue with you, cook for you, hear your voice, hear your laugh, see you play with Dem babies. It’s just so much. I love you and I’ll be forever hurt by your death. But I thank God for your life, for making you my brother. I miss you! I love you endlessly. That’s all for now.
Doing It Again
I never thought that I would be pursuing a relationship at this point in my life. But here I am. I have always been a hopeless romantic who believed in soulmates. I always thought there is one person out there for everyone that God made especially for them. Even now, at 48 years old, I still think each of us has a match but I also think life is short so you need to grab love whenever you can.
I am not saying go out there and sleep with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, as my mom says. Sex is not love or happiness. I am saying be happy within yourself and when you find someone that adds to that happiness go for it because it could lead to love. I used to think I needed a man to make me happy. That is a myth the majority of women, especially young women, believe. I learned the hard way that if you are not happy and content within, how can you add to someone else’s happiness. You can’t.
No relationship or person is perfect. Conflict will arise. You are constantly learning about one another so you can resolve issues and let them go instead of holding on to them or constantly bringing them up. Let issues go. Learn to forgive easily. Life is too short for grudges and silent treatments. That energy can be spent loving, living, and being in the presence of the one you love.
I believe when it comes to love, you have to pray and listen to the answers with your heart and your intuition. I am the bleeding heart type who tends to fall fast before really getting to know the person and my eagerness usually leads to heartbreak. BUT, change is bliss. I found a really great man and I had to trust myself to take this slow. I learned that if you be completely transparent from the start, the right one will stick around. You must see that person for who THEY are and not what YOU have been through. I had to do the work and take down some walls and allow him time to break down barriers of his own.
I’m not saying this relationship is perfect because none are. We all have our faults and flaws. But I believe that the key to true love and added happiness is to love past the pain; love in spite of faults and flaws, along side illness and struggles, and throughout any problems. Regardless of what happens, within the realms of forgiveness, never stop loving.
#valtheblogger #mypoeticlifebook #doingitagain #relationshipadvice #womenrelationshipadvice
Life After Covid-19
The third week of May 2021, my mom developed a dry cough. I had a cold the week before, so we figured not every cough is Covid, right? By this time I was on my second round of antibiotics as usual since I have chronic sinusitis. But as the days went on, I began to ache in my body like nothing I ever felt before. My mom’s cough worsened and my sister began to cough. My skin was sore to touch and my Mom began running a fever. My sister already had her first of the Moderna vaccine.
I told my mom we all needed to get tested because I was sure we had Covid-19. But it would be another week before we were able to get someone to take us to the doctor. On June 3, 2021, my 77 year old Mother, my sister, and I tested positive for Covid-19. Mom’s breathing was a hard pant and her oxygen saturation was only only 70% (90-100% is normal). I commend our doctors office for jumping into action, stabilizing he,r and getting her to the hospital. Being positive myself, I could not go with her and I was devastated, afraid, and completely unprepared for what was to come.
I couldn’t help but feel guilty for not forcing mom to get to the doctor sooner. Hundreds of thoughts were running through my head as tears constantly ran down my face. I cried all night and didn’t sleep at all. We were relieved the next morning as Mom made it through the night. We’ve all heard the statistics concerning the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. All we could do was pray that Mommy wouldn’t die from this awful virus.
At home, my sister and I conditions quickly worsened. If I felt like breathing was making me sicker, I couldn’t imagine what Mom was going through. The nurses did an amazing job keeping us up to date on her condition. So far she was taking the high flow oxygen well but there’s Covid pneumonia in both lungs. She was holding her own and even called us from her room on the Covid floor to try and lift our spirits! Can you believe that? I had never been so relieved to hear her voice and all I could do was cry good tears. Our joy was turned to panic as night fell and she was rushed to ICU.
On the evening of June 5, 2021, after doing well all day, Mommy took a turn for the worse. She went down fast! She began struggling so hard to breath that the doctor called me for the permission to put my mom on the on the ventilator. Without it, she would tire and go into respiratory distress on 100% high flow oxygen. He also said she was in no state of mind to make any decisions concerning her health. In my head I could hear my friend saying, whatever you do don’t let them put her on the ventilator, then I remember all my friends whose parents died from Covid. So, I made the difficult executive decision to intubate.
After Mom was stabilized on the vent, the doctor called a family meeting. The doctor met my sister and I (we got permission to come but couldn’t see her) and all the older grandkids in a conference room. Mom had been sedated and placed on the ventilator to allow her to rest and for her lungs to heal themselves. She had not responded to the antiviral medication nor any other. With the utmost respect, kindness, and tact he informed us that due to my mom’s age, weight, and preexisting conditions (a prior ongoing infection, diabetes and heart disease) she had a very low chance of recovering. He answered all of our questions and heard our concerns. When he left out the room, we knew all we could do was pray.
Leaving the hospital without seeing my Mom was the hardest, but I felt some peace knowing she could rest and didn’t have to fight so hard, at least for the night. The nurses in ICU were wonderful. She would be on the vent a few days before they’d try reducing settings to get her off. My sister and I took those days to rest and try to get well. Family and friends sent groceries, money, humidifiers, and anything they thought we needed we received. The hospital only allowed one person per day to visit outside her room through the glass for 15 minutes. My oldest sister from Colorado stood in the gap for those of us who couldn’t be there.
They had sedated mom so her lungs could heal themselves and she could regain her strength. After two days, they were still unable to wean her from the ventilator. Her O2 sats kept dropping but they were able to decrease her sedation. But God! By the end of third day, Mom was awake and strong enough to be taken off the ventilator. She tolerated the high flow oxygen so well that she eventually was put on regular oxygen. She did so well on that, the doctor turned it off and the next day she was released home. The ICU nurse referred to her as their ‘miracle patient’.
It’s crazy how life can change in the blink of an eye! And it’s miraculous how God intervenes! This was the scariest time of my life. I was almost certain that I was going to lose my mom to Covid-19. We can’t say for certain what medically turned her around, if there was something we did different or not, or what miraculously saved her life. But what I do know is we are a praying family serving a merciful God. The doctor who told us Mom had a low chance of survival, was just doing his job. Mom is here through the grace of God! As a nurse, I believe in science but I ultimately believe in God. Why people choose one over the other, I don’t know. The doctors did everything right, but God did everything period!!
So what is life after Covid-19?? It’s sitting here writing this with a view of my Mom sitting in her recliner a few feet from me. It’s testing negative and being able to see my granddaughter for the first time in almost two years! It’s so many things big and small, but the most of all it’s an appreciation for the people in my life, for family, for friends, for strangers.
I’d like to thank Dr. Bridgette Smith, M.D., of Crimson Urgent Care of West Alabama under Dr. Ramesh Paremsetti and staff for stabilizing my Mom at the office.
We’d like to thank the Covid nursing staff of 5 South and Dr. Henna, M.D., and the ICU staff for doing an amazing job caring for my Mom and us, her family! Thank you so much!!
#vfurrmstheblogger #ValerieMarieCollins #Mypoeticlifethebook #newheightscomingsoon
Justice Feeling Perplexed
I never knew one word read three times could sound so good. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
I should be elated, but actually, I’m not sure how to feel. On April 20, 2021, people all over the country waited nervously for the verdict of George Floyd’s murderer, the ex cop Derik Chauvin. To be honest, until the last charge was read, I was not able to breath. Then finally I exhaled a sigh of relief for justice for Mr. Floyd’s family, my own son, nephews, cousins, uncle’s, and friends and for people of color around the globe.
I never knew one word read three times could sound so good. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
But I’m also perplexed. Why? Because we still live in a world where I am, along side million who look like me, holding my breath and hoping justice is served this time. It should be served every time. Better yet this does not need to ever happen again. We as black people, in a “free” country, should expect our boys and men to come home safe. We shouldn’t lose our lives when we get stopped for a tail light. We shouldn’t have to be at the point of panic when we get pulled over bekieving this may be our last day alive.
For me personally, I’m a praying mother. But should my prayers include protect my son, daughter, and her husband from the police? My son is in the process of getting his driver’s license. For others this is a proud moment. But for me, I’m scared because his chances of dying at a traffic stop increase. This should not be!
We are we being murdered by cops for simple violations, when mass murderers are taken alive unless they kill themselves. Is the guilty verdict in the Derik Chauvin the beginning of change or just pacivity? Will police departments begin to hold officers accountable for choke holds, excessive force, killing children, or using their firearm instead less force? Although I hope Chauvin’s sentencing is great, more has to be done to ensure our safety while in custody.
So where do we go from here? There must be changes in how police are trained. Plus they need to stop putting officers in communities that they are afraid to protect. If you’re not afraid you are less likely to find a black man walking to the store a threat. Every nephew who has visited my home has been stopped by the police and questioned for walking to the store.
Will there ever be a day we can send our children into the world unafraid they will be murdered by police?
Thanks for hearing my thoughts,
#georgefloydguiltyverdict #derikchauvin #valeriefurrcollins #valeriecollins #rememberinggeorgefloyd
My Mini Breakdown
Here we are a little over a year after Covid-19 first began; we might be seeing a small flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. The two vaccines circulating has offered hope to the American people and strengthens the idea that there can possibly be an end this pandemic soon. Still, this entire year has taken a toll on many of us and our mental a d physical health. And I’m not ashamed to admit these past few weeks, my mental health has suffered.
Mental illness is such a broad spectrum that includes many illnesses. For me, anxiety and depression are those I have trouble with. Depression doesn’t let you know when it will creep up. It just appears out of nowhere and takes over your life. At least that’s how it is for me. In recent time, well, before Covid, when it reared it’s ugly head, I was able to stay busy and shake it off. But these days, unable to travel, act, or do much outside my home, I’m unable to distract myself and depression takes over. I’m blessed to have a good support system; and to be able to put my experiences into words helps a lot.
I used to suffer from bad panic attacks. It feels just like it’s depicted in movies on TV. The room seems to narrow, people get bigger and/or closer, you feel like your choking as your heart races. Thankfully I do not have panic attacks that severe any more and hadn’t had an anxiety attack in years until Covid. The fear of contracting and dying from Covid caused so much anxiety all of a sudden that I could not control it. Toppled with depression and pain from fibromyalgia flares, I began to feel so overwhelmed.
I didn’t want to worry my loved ones so I kept how I was feeling to myself until it was too late. I was in a fibro flare, panicked, and in a state of fear all at the same time. Sound familiar? I thought about death so much basically, feeling it coming for me. I began having night terrors which made me afraid to go to sleep. My pain made it impossible to cope. I had to push with every ounce of me to take care of my mom, my brother, and myself.
I tried explaining how I was feeling but at the time, I thought they could never understand. That frustrated me even more. I got to the point where I knew I had to do something. So, I took some me time, distanced myself a little, did some writing, and decided to wait it out. I stayed in prayer and read daily devotionals. I took long showers and bubble baths, talked to my mom and eventually after about three weeks, I began to feel the spirit of depression release.
It sounds simple, but it was not. All I know is that this is what worked for me. It took three weeks or more before I felt better but I knew it was only temporary. I had to work through it on my own. When I emerged, family and friends I was met with so much love. I thank God that after each storm, when the clouds lift, my life is still full of hope, love, and joy.
I hope this helps some one know they are not alone.
Love, Valerie Collins
#mentalhealth #covid19mentalbreakdown #covid19crisis #valeriefurrcollins #valeriemariecollins #mypoeticlifebook #vfurrmstheblogger
Ms. Cecily Tyson: The Legend, The Life, The Talent, The Inspiration
Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman, and Busting Loose, are just a few of the most popular movie titles of which Ms. Cecily Tyson spread about her acting talent. Actually Ms. Tyson career began on stage and on the silver screen with what possibly was her first movie, Carib Gold in 1956. As a woman of color, this was groundbreaking! Many others would follow such as The Angry Man in 1959 and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in 1968. Her career spand over 60 years and was decorated with many awards and accolades.
As a little girl growing up in Arizona and Alabama, I didn’t realize as a brown child, that I too could grace the stage. It wasn’t until I saw Roots and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman many years after they originally aired, that I saw a beautiful woman who looked like me prove me wrong. My highschool wishlist included acting on stage. I finally got that chance last 2019 and early 2020 in three plays for Mor-Shy Productions.
Ms. Tyson continued to portray her every roll with grace and class. My favorite movies were Mama Flora’s House and Tyler Perry’s 2006 release, Madea’s Family Reunion. Her monologue in the latter movie was cinematic gold. Ms. Tyson spoke not only to the young actors but to the nation as she encouraged us all to “love on one another” and to respect our elders and ourselves, and etc.
The loss of Ms. Cecily Tyson rocked the world on January 28, 2021, just two days after the release of her memiors “Just as I Am”, at the cool age of 96 years old. She was an icon. A true legend. She worked all the way up to her death with her final works including A Fall From Grace, and How to Get Away with Murder, where she played Viola Davis’ mother, a woman with Dimentia. It was an honor to be her fan.
When the news of her passing was released, it felt as if a family member had died. Ms. Tyson had been a staple in our home my entire life. She was an inspiration, an example of classiness, a portrayal of kindness, and lived her life and carried herself with grace and mindfulness. She taught us that there was nothing we could not do if only we believed in ourselves and a higher power that watched over us all.
We could learn from this Queens career that breaking barriers can be done through action and through what we choose say. She once said, “I realized that I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress, that there were a number of issues that I needed to address. So I made the decision to use my career as my platform”. And she did just that! Let’s all use our platforms to address the issues and injustices of today. So that even though Ms. Tyson life on Earth has ended, her legacy will live on.
Ms. Valerie Collins
#MsCecilyTyson #TheAutobiographyofMsJanepittman #legend #actress #AsIAm