A Moment in Time – June 25th, 2019
June 25, 2019
Just Stop, Just Flow.
My book, Border Crossing Brothas: Black Males Navigating Race, Place
and Complex, chronicles the life journeys of 12 Black men. Each man
shares how spaces like barbershops, churches, athletic spaces and their
neighborhoods impacted their educational journey. Invariably, their
schooling, family and relationship experiences emerge in the narratives,
as the men give us insights into who they are and how they got where
I want to introduce you to one of them from the study before we finish
up our time together at the end of this week.
Please meet Allan, one of the participants in the study.
Allan is what many would describe as a “conscious” Black Bermudian
male. In his mid-30s, Allan sports dreadlocks, has a very peaceful
demeanor, and embodies a strong sense of African and Bermudian
identity. He is a lover of nature with a gentle and humble spirit.
Through the use of rich personal examples and his strong Bermudian
accent, his cadence and word choice suggest that he is a man of deep
Allan is happily married and the father of one son. He is a proud home
owner who through ambition, sacrifice, and his construction skills was
able to purchase and renovate the home he now lives in. But this was
not always his story.
While Allan mentions the significance of his neighborhood as a space of
experimentation as he grew up, he identifies two additional
community-based educative institutions that served as both potent
pedagogical forces in his life and outliers in my study: those spaces
were prison and the gombeys.
The gombeys are popular Bermudian dance troupes which have origins
in African traditions. Disturbingly, the prison is a space Black males in
Bermuda and across the Diaspora disproportionate experience. Much
of what Allan has acquired was accomplished after 2008, when—having
been released from prison after serving time for attempted
murder—he determined to “accomplish more in a one year than
[others] accomplish in a lifetime.” Allan’s transformation occurred in
the solitude of the prison space where he was able to reflect on his
manhood and recalibrate his personal vision.
Allan also acquired his GED in prison, where he served nearly four years
of a ten-year prison sentence for “defending his (biological) brother”
who was attacked during a soccer match at a sports club. The restraint
of the prison space—which offers an interesting paradox to the free
expression of gombey dancing—eliminated the distractions that had
conspired against the completion of his high school diploma in public
schooling. Allan admits that a combination of a lack of personal focus
and poor schools impeded his educational border crossing during
Two specific quotations from Allan are informative and worth
additional consideration. He notes in regards to his time in prison:
“[I] had a lot of time—a lot of thinking time—a lot of studying. I don’t
blame nobody. It’s all my doing, all my creation, all my choices. I’m a
person that won’t blame the devil because that don’t make me a
responsible person. I’ve made all the choices in my life, got the
consequences, dealt with them. For the good choices [I] got the
Allan also mentions the significance of the gombeys as a space where
he can “just flow.”
[I] flow like water, like I ain’t got no bones in my body, just flow.
This quotation caused me to reflect on how great it would be if we
could describe our time with God like Allan describes his experience in
the gombeys: “just flow.”
Few spaces allow young people to “just flow.” In fact, many
mainstream or traditional educative spaces—like schools and some
churches—are intentional about stifling free-flowing creativity and
Allan’s narrative begs a few questions:
Besides prison, where are the spaces that our young people can just
stop, reflect and assess their lives. Besides athletic spaces, where are
the spaces that our young people can “just flow?” Is your church,
classroom or home a space where the Holy Spirit has permission flow?
Is your church, classroom or home a space where young people can
‘just stop’ and reflect and share with you their thoughts.
On a weekly basis, the Sabbath is actually a great time and space to
‘just stop’—to pause and disconnect from the busyness of life and to
remember that Jesus is Lord of our lives and of all creation. Personal
and family worship time are practices that can help us to “just stop,”
which creates space for the Holy Spirit to “just flow.” Similarly, our
churches can and should be spaces where we can flow in our
expression and sharing of our love for Christ and each other.
Today, find a moment to “just stop” and invite the Holy Spirit to “just
flow” in your life as He directs your thoughts.
This is Dr. Ty Douglas, author of Border Crossing Brothas, and I want to
invite you to experience SALT—So Amazing Life Today; it’s available to
each of us, in Christ.
You can reach Dr. Ty at www.DrTyDouglas.org and follow him at @DrTyDouglas.
Link to purchase Border Crossing Brothas: https://www.amazon.com/Border-Crossing-«Brothas»-Navigating-Critical/dp/1433135388