I feel alone, even if I’m in a room full of people. I can’t feel happy, but it’s temporary and only lasts a few seconds. It hasn’t always been like this. One of my family members and child had to flee the country due to domestic violence a few years ago. It hasn’t been the same since then for anyone. After it all happened, I was ok for a while just thought they would come back in a week, and it would be ok. It has been 3 years, and I miss them every day. She met someone else and had two more children. I’ve missed their birthdays. All of them. It has been harder with restrictions because I can’t see any friends, and due to that, I stay in bed all day in a completely dark room. I want to tell someone how I feel, but I don’t want people to sympathize and worry. Especially when the pandemic is on, and my mom and dad have a lot of stress with work and life in general. I cry almost every day because I can’t do it anymore. I already tried to take my life, but it wasn’t successful. I want to try again, but I try to keep positive and keep the faith it will get better. I need help, but everyone has their own problems and own worries. I don’t want to be judged either for being that girl who is always sad or depressed. It is getting worse, and I had to end my relationship so I could work on myself and not push my feeling onto someone else. I do have a friend, my closest friend she helps me a lot, so I do try and still am trying. Even tho it is hard to talk about what happened, I try when I can and the trauma I’ve been through. I’ve tried everything to be happy, but it’s gotten worse and worse and continues to get worse, especially the last few weeks. I’ve realized that it’s ok not to be ok, but I don’t want to always feel like this.
My name is Morgan Gray. I am currently a senior at Mississippi State University majoring in History. Above all things, I am a first-generation student. This title means a lot to me, considering that my grandfather was only allowed to receive a third-grade education before he was forced to drop out of school and work in the fields of Mississippi. My mother was not allowed to go to college either, because her parents could not afford the cost of tuition. They were not informed about the resources they could use to prepare her for the next step of higher education.
Statistically speaking, I should not be here. It would be an understatement to say that I was not surrounded by people who saw my full potential. I was often bullied because of my weight, ethnicity, and lack of wealth at the elementary school I attended. I would go home and be verbally and physically abused by many loved ones. I was consistently ridiculed, oppressed, and overlooked in nearly every environment I was in.
At a young age, I was taught to speak correct English and to enunciate my words. Many of my black counterparts would tease me because my dialogue resembled that of a white woman. White students would shy away from me because my clothes were distasteful hand-me-downs, and I did not come from the same background as them. Needless to say, I was too white for the black kids, and I was too black for the white kids. These experiences taught me that no one wanted to hear my voice, and no one cared what I thought.
In an effort to better myself, I began to seek council with Janae Robinson at the Student Counseling Services on campus. I was severely depressed because of the magnitude of loss that I had experienced. I did not see the potential of my own life and did not have a greater understand of my purpose in the world. I was diagnosed with depression in Spring 2018. I suffer from situational depression, the result of childhood neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and bullying throughout my life.
At Mississippi State University, I was presented with an amazing opportunity: to be the person I knew I could be. I forgave myself for the horrible things that I could not change. I learned to love myself despite my flaws. One day, I came to the realization that someone else’s beauty is not the absence of my own. I did not want people to judge me based on my materialistic possessions, but solely off my character and work ethic. I learned to value my own self-worth and to take pride in myself regardless of what society says.
I take the time to indulge in myself, and to share the importance of mental health and self-love. My demeanor improved drastically once I changed my mindset. Now, I am more focused on my career, the wants and needs of my community, and the importance of educating myself about diversity and leadership. I can say that my confidence and courage can be witnessed in the way that I speak and dress. Without a shadow of a doubt, my presence is acknowledged and accepted in every environment that I enter. Because of my boldness, elegance, and resilience, my peers and mentors hold me to a higher standard. This motivates me to be the best version of myself at all times.
The general theme of my life during this period is to consider the subtler spiritual truths that give my life dimension and meaning. My main challenge is to question how far I have come in an effort to fulfill my ideals, and to identify what changes I should make.
Now, I currently serve as the Vice President of the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center’s I.D.E.A.L. Woman. Our organization is composed of women who value academic excellence, professional growth, leadership, womanhood, and community service. Our goal is not only to succeed in all endeavors, but to excel beyond typical expectations. We encourage and motivate women to establish and use leadership skills that will not only enhance themselves, but also the individuals they come in contact with.
I devote my life to giving back to my community and aiding those who are in need. Currently, I am a Youth Development Professional at the Boys and Girls Club of the Golden Triangle of Starkville. This experience is extremely eye-opening because I have the privilege to interact with a new generation. I get hands-on experience with their problems, and I have the opportunity to help my students grow and learn.
Now, I realize that in order for me to effectively aid my community, I had to understand it in its entirety. I started to understand that my people were starting to lose their place in society. They did not have a good understanding of mental health, or of the importance of supporting themselves or others; they were not aware of their history and the vital role our ancestors played in building this nation.
Once I realized this, I took the initiative to learn about the past so I could understand the present, which would aid me in predicting my future. The goal is to dedicate myself to something bigger than my surroundings. It is now time for me to open up, grow bigger, and take pride in my scars. This will let all of my past selves shine through.
All my life, I suffered from rejection and disappointments. It seemed as if I never fit in with the crowd, so I acted out to seek attention and became the class clown. I was always different from most of the kids my age. I always found myself alone and desperate to be loved by anybody. My parents were there but weren’t there; they missed out on so much. I was from house to house; I was very rebellious and disrespectful. So my closest relatives abandon me. I remember days staying at the homeless shelter, sleeping under the bridge. I can remember local pastors and community leaders putting me up in hotels. Outstanding citizens open their homes to me. I use to cry and ask God, “Why Me?”. In all reality, I was a good person. I became so desperate to be loved that I tried to buy relationships and friendship just to be alone. I ended up getting used a lot. I use to fall so easily for girls because they acted as if they were concerned or cared. I gave all of me to end up empty. I love strong and hard. So most of the time, after they have used me, they move on, and I’m stuck hurting. I care way too much sometimes and too nice. I never healed from rejection, and the family hurt, so I cleaved to anyone who showed me attention. Everyone I opened my heart to always left me feeling empty.
It all started in 2013; my mom called the cops on me cause I didn’t give her money and claimed that I ran away from home when I didn’t even live with her. I stayed with my grandma cause she raised me & let me have my way. The only rule was if I wasn’t working be home by 9 pm which I could never do… so she calls herself kicking me out, so I went to stay with my aunt, so I was there three weeks, she told me to go to my grandma for the weekend I did, but I left to get something too to eat my aunt got mad talking bought my granny let me have my way… so I move back with my grandma all summer. Then school started. I had to move back with her. I was there 3 days this time. The weekend came she told me to go to my grandma for the weekend, I didn’t go I went & stayed with a friend. I got to my grandma’s house later that same week. So my aunt gets there, makes me get all my stuff, and takes me to my mom’s house. We get there to find out my mom done move can’t reach her. My aunt thinks she so perfect and does no wrong. She is a teacher and has kids in college, so she thinks she is better than the family. So my other Aunt who worked at school I went to said to bring him to my house. I went there stayed a month. I got in trouble at school and got wrote up, so she kicked me out. Plus, the school was concerned about my guardianship, so I was out of school for two weeks. I was then staying with my other aunt, who is like a mom to me. My aunt called me and told me to come to get my stuff. They then tried to make me go to my mom. I didn’t, so they all jumped me. I then tried to commit suicide, the cops came and took me to the ER, they all followed.. we get to the hospital I told them exactly how I feel bout them. All my life me & my cousin have been the outcast they always said we would never be anything. So for six months, I was placed to place, homeless shelters, hotels. Then God blessed me with an apartment. I felt as if I had nobody, and nobody wanted me…
Then my mom was there, but she didn’t understand, & my daddy never really cared; as long as I was doing what he said, he tried to be there, but I kind of pushed him away cause he was trying to make me a thug. Growing up, my mom didn’t work; she lived off welfare; as long as section 8 was paying the bills & rent, she was fine & getting food stamps… I use to feel for my brother and sister cause I think about what would happen if welfare gets cut off… They moved to Houston with my dad. I wonder how she lives knowing that She missed some of the biggest events in our life. I do not pity her cause she was raised better. I really wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for my granny. I pray God to bless that lady’s life because of what she did for me…… Behind every disappointment I stood tall in my truth and kept pushing forward. I lost spiritual mentors, but gained a love from my community by becoming heavenly involved in changing my community for the better. I married the love of my life and had a beautiful child. What the devil had for me to fail, God turned it into a testimony.
What do you do when you are the strongest out of the crew? You are the glue that holds everyone together. But then the day comes when you can’t even hold yourself up. You know your friends and family are there, but you are “the strong one” that listens and pushes everyone for greatness! You can’t worry them, right, cause we are all struggling? What do you do? You cry and plead for God to hear you, but you don’t feel like he is listening, but deep down, you know better because he’s not a God that forsake his kids, right? He’s the same God that has brought you out of sooo many things! The same God yesterday, today, and forever!!! You know all these things, but you still can’t fight against the darkness that’s pulling you into a deeper hole! What do you do????
Dear white man……
Dear white man, I have questions, and I need answers. What did we do wrong? You were killing us off like it’s nothing to you.
How did we get here?
What did we do wrong?
Dear white man, why do you treat us like this?
You brought us here against our will and made us slaves. You made us build this country you call home, but then you turn around to kill us off. How is that fair? Why do we deserve this kind of treatment?
Dear white man,
Tell me why you do us the way you do us? We have done nothing wrong. All we’ve done was walk home with a black hoodie on, but end up shot down and killed or selling cigarettes on the sidewalk trying to make an honest living.
Dear white man,
Why are you doing us the way you do us? Why you do the things you are doing to us, and we haven’t done anything to you.
Dear white man,
All we want is peace, love, and happiness. All we want is the American dream. But how can you have the American dream when the world you call America was stolen from someone else, that they killed, raped, and oppressed.
Dear white man,
Why are you doing us like this? I am scared to go outside and have fun with my kids because I live in an all-white neighborhood, and I don’t look like I belong. You might stop me, because you feel I don’t belong in this area, you might shoot me down in front of my kid because you think I am a threat. I’m just black man living good in an all-white neighborhood. Dear white man,
Tell me why that is okay—dear white man, I need answers. I need an explanation of why you do us the way you do us and why you treat us the way you treat us? Why are you killing us the way you are killing us. I just want to know why?
Dear white man,
Make this clear to me. You say we have equal rights, and you say we are equal, but we don’t get treated equally.
Dear white man,
Why are you are sentencing blacks to jail for life on their first offense, but the white man get a spank on the hand, sentenced to probation and get to go home to his family.
Dear white man,
Help me understand. Help me understand how any of this cruelness and wickedness is okay? I’m tired of seeing hashtags and black lives matter t-shirt. But how can you change a world that was built on racism? How can you change a world that supposes to be about equality that was built on hate, oppression, and slavery? How can you say you created this country for us, but when we were brought here, we were not consider human? Tell me, dear white man help me me understand? This BLACK MAN NEED ANSWERS
Dear White Man…
I am tired. I am tired of turning on the news and seeing a BLACK person killed over nothing. I am tired of seeing the news cover up the truth and not witnessing justice to be served. I am tired that the KARENS of the world have the privilege to put BLACK people in danger because they can. I am tired of living in fear. I am tired of being scared because I AM BLACK. I am tired of being sick and tired (Fannie Lou Hammer).
My BLACKNESS does not give you an open pass to kill me. My BLACKNESS does not give you the pass to feel threatened by me because I drive a nice car and a decent job. My BLACKNESS does not permit you to kill me in my own home (Botham Jean). My BLACKNESS does not give you the right to harass me because I like to mind my business (Lolade Slynobola). My BLACKNESS does not permit you to gun me down because I went for a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). My BLACKNESS does not give you access to buss down my door and shoot me in my sleep (Breonna Taylor). My BLACKNESS does not provide you with permission to KICK DOWN MY DOOR and shoot me because I was playing a video game with my nephew (Atatiana Jefferson). My BLACKNESS does not allow you to assume that I am a criminal because I fit a description (Trayvon Martin). My BLACKNESS does not give you the right to kill me.
This is America, the land of the free. Free to allow white people to protest to go to work during a pandemic. Free to let a white man go into a church and kill nine innocent black people. Free to go into a school and kill students and teachers because they were bullied, and that is the only way to express their anger. Land of the free where a white man gets a slap on the wrist and has the opportunity to share his side of the story. Land of the free, where I do not get that chance. Land of the free where my black brothers are constantly scrutinized. When does it end?
I am tired of crying over our black men because they are not safe. I am exhausted on turning on the news and seeing the reporter portray an innocent man as a “thug.” What is it going to take? How many protests do we need to have? How many black people have to die because white people feel entitled to kill us. I am exhausted. Exhausted of crying over a black person death. Exhausted of texting another hashtag. Exhausted of living in fear. I am EXHAUSTED!!
Dear White People, we are not your target practice.
It’s kinda weird sharing my story for the first time. But just knowing the amount of young people it could help I’m all for it. At the age of 7, my story began. I was staying with my mom and my stepfather, and they both worked at night, so I was forced to be kept by a distant cousin. Of course, being 7 I didn’t understand much but I did notice how close he always wanted to be to me and not my brother. I can remember vividly the first time it happened we were in our new apartment and I was asked did I want to play hide and seek. Of course at 7 that seemed so exciting and so I did. I hid in the guest room closet and was very quiet. Not soon after hiding my rapist came in behind me. Still thinking he was playing I stood there. He then grabbed me from behind and began kissing me, disgusting is what I felt I asked him to stop and he whispered softly in my ear that everything was okay. I then pushed him away and RAN AS FAST AS I COULD OUT OF THERE. He soon came running behind me and told me not to tell or they’d whoop me and I’d be in a lot of trouble and so I didn’t because I was scared . A few days passed and everything was okay. I guess he was testing to see would I tell but of course I was so scarred until I didn’t. That next weekend came and my parents had to work so he was stuck babysitting again. I took a bath before my mom went to work and laid in my bed pretending to be sleep in hopes that he would not bother me. Boy was I wrong as soon as my brother went to sleep I heard my door crack open, IT WAS HIM, I didn’t know what to do so I continued to pretend to rest. He cane and laid behind me and started pulling my underwear down. I was so lost this is supposed to be the no-no square tight? Nobody should touch me there. Is it okay because he is an adult? Should I run? Should I scream? So many thoughts ran through my head as I continued playing sleep. Then I felt a lot of pressure and it hurt so bad until I screamed. WHAT IS HE DOING TO ME I WONDERED? What should I do? I screamed and I cried and no one came to save me. Once it was all over I was sore for days and I bled . I didn’t want my mom to know so I’d put tissue in the seat of my underwear because I was afraid I’d get in trouble if I told or she found out. From the age 7 until around 10 or 11 I was molested once sometimes twice a week and was too afraid to tell anyone. Fearful that I’d be in trouble or my family would be mad at me. I finally told my grandmother one night before we went to church and she called and told my mom. They took me to therapists and they were there 100% and I couldn’t imagine what I would do without them. I’m now 22 years old, I struggle sometimes. I feel less of a woman because of what I allowed to happen to me as a child and how weak I was towards my molester and how I let it go on for so long. I struggle the most with my confidence, I never felt like I was enough and often reflect back on how I was treated by my molester as a child. But yet and still i overcame, what broke most people I overcame it and used it to push me to beat the statistics that were set for me. I was always told don’t let your situation determine your destination and I didn’t I used it to make me better. I went through nursing school and failed the first time, I got up dusted myself off and went back I am now a 22 year old nurse, I have two kids, and I am a homeowner. I used everything that was set for me to fail and used it to push me towards success. I always wanted to tell my story to let every little girl know that they are enough, that they can do whatever they set their mind to and also that they are not ALONE.
Have you ever gotten on a roller coaster? You get on the ride, somewhat nervous, excited because you do not know what to expect. You get on the ride, buckle your seat-belt and prepare yourself for the ride that is ahead. The ride starts, and you already prepare your scream. The rollercoaster takes you the peak of the ride, pause, and slowly roll down the big steep hill to prepare for the crazy ride ahead. You go up, down, upside down, twisting and turning throughout the ride, and then all of a sudden, the ride is over. Your excitement has ended, but your experience on the ride never leaves your thought. You can remember how you felt before the ride start and after. Life is your rollercoaster.
Life will take you up, down, and upside down, but it’s all about how you handle the ride. I have this saying, ” if I am down today, tomorrow, or next week. I know that my life will turn back upright”. It’s a saying that I tell myself on bad and good days. Even in the good days, I know that I must prepare myself for the bad days ahead. Life is going to taking on you many rides, but you must remember, the good will come, but so will the bad.
How do you prepare for the bad days when the good days are oh! So sweet?! There are a million ways to do so. You have to find what works best for you. I pray and listen to worship music. I let God prepare me for my battle, so when it comes, I can face it head-on. I have a friend that enjoys journaling and one friend who enjoys working out. All three of these methods can be used to prepare for those not so good days. Tell me what is your go-to plan when life gets a little too hard?
Remember you are on a never-ending roller coaster and you are going to go up and down. You are going to feel good, but you are also going to feel bad. Do not let the rollercoaster take control over you, but YOU take control of the roller coaster.
I decided to finally share my story because I’m hoping someone else can find the strength to carry on as well.My life has been ups and downs as everyone else’s has, but it took me a long time to realize that the things that happened to me weren’t right, nor were they normal. Our family has always prided itself on excellence, pushing each child to go onward and upward, but never addressing the trauma that shapes us. I think that’s a major flaw of Black families, the need to keep what happens at home, home. No matter what happens, no matter who touches you, no matter who hurts you, no matter how it affects you. My first memory of someone trying to take advantage of my innocence and naivete was when I was four, and my mother kept me away from a neighbor who was trying to convince a friend and I to come to his apartment and see the monster in his closet. Only as an adult did I realize HE was the monster. She did her job protecting me from strangers, making sure the right friends watched us, but it was family members she trusted me with who ultimately hurt me. Even she did. She was going through her own battles and was physically and emotionally abusive, and while she admits her mental state was off, she still refuses to admit the wrongs she had done or come to terms with what was done to me. I was five when one of my older cousins convinced me I was his girlfriend, offered to watch me all the time, and did everything but penetrate me. It took me a long time to figure out how wrong that was. Throughout my life there have been family members and even church members who have sexually harassed or assaulted me in a number of ways that got dismissed because I was “fast”. There was even an instance when I was 14 when an older boy I knew gained access into my grandmother’s house with a friend looking to rape me. My grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s, had let them in. I found the gun she had hidden, hid behind the door, and by the grace of God, my grandfather told them I never go in there, so they didn’t come in. I would later on be raped in high school by a boyfriend because he “didn’t know I was serious when I said no”. My trauma has led me to some extremely dangerous situations and tumultuous relationships, because I didn’t know how to associate love without pain. I didn’t know how to get support without there having to be a trade off. Sex and sexual acts had been such a part of my life that I didn’t really know not to seek that kind of attention and instead of attempting to help me, I was shunned and degraded by a family that refused to even listen to me. It led me to being diagnosed with depression at 15 and multiple suicide attempts before I even turned 18. After so much pain, I wanted to die. I didn’t understand my purpose here until I turned 20 and I had my first child. Seeing him for the first time, I knew my purpose was to love him and guide him, to protect him as best as I could. Regrettably, he had to be with me as I was still broken, still trying to find myself past the pain. It all came to a head again when I was drugged at a party and raped by a family friend. No one helped me. No one called anyone for me. They covered it up and I remember finally making it home the next day and staying in bed for days. I lost myself again after that. I partied, did drugs, ended up in an abusive relationship, had two other children. I completely fell off the tracks, but the universe saw fit to have people come into my life and help me find my way back to me. I found a group of sisters who helped me rebuild myself, to find the God in me and excel. That didn’t come without it’s own struggles. I am still unpacking a lot of my trauma and dealing with the consequences of a lot of my actions and unfortunately, it got so overwhelming that my last attempt was earlier this year. But God saw fit to keep me here, to see my children smile, to seek and find help, to share my story. It is a hard journey, but I am still here. I am still looking for a reason other than my children to remain here, but I am slowly finding it. I want to help others know that it’s not over. Hardships don’t have to be your end. You are not the sum of your past, you are the direction of your future. Letting go is the hardest part, but worth it.
Can you imagine growing up and your brother making you perform sexual acts on him? Here is my story. Growing up I can remember my brother would come to visit. We’re about five years apart. I believe I was the age of six or seven years old, he would come to visit, and when our grandmother would go to the kitchen or take a shower, he would make me perform oral sex on him. By him being my older brother I was scared of him and what he would do to me. I never told anyone about what he was doing when no one was looking, as I got older sex became an addiction. When I was sixteen years old, I started sneaking my boyfriend at the time into my house. I never got caught, but I knew it was wrong. By the time I was eighteen years old I had a new boyfriend. There were times when I would not attend family functions or church because I wanted to be with him. I knew we were going to have sex eventually. Yes, there were times I would get tired of having sex, but I couldn’t stop. By the time I was twenty or twenty one I went away to college, and it began to get worse. I had a boyfriend back home, a boyfriend at another school, a boyfriend who I met through a friend, and a guy I fooled around with one. I knew it was wrong to have sex with all these different guys, but my addiction had taken over me, and I wanted to get it from whoever would give me the time of day. When I returned home from school, the boyfriend I had back home had a secret of his own. He was dating someone else, and they got married two weeks after he and I were just together. I honestly think that had a lot to do with me slowing down. I can remember one day reading a post on Facebook about how demons can transfer from your partner to you. So can you imagine sleeping with 4 to 5 different men and not realize there are dozens of spirits amongst you? I’m so thankful I have people praying for me. I’m glad I realized who I am. I’m a child of God, and he has forgiven me of every sin I’ve committed and had thrown them into the lake of forgetfulness. Even in my mess, he didn’t allow me to become pregnant or get an STD of any kind. I’ve been free from my addiction for four years now. Some days it is a struggle because I might see something on tv or hear something that will remind me of my past. This is why I’m careful of what I allow myself to watch and listen. However, when these thoughts occur God steps in and remind me of how far I’ve come.