What Don’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

What Don’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

I have heard that saying probably my entire life and wondered why being strong had to be compared to being dead. Why do you have to die if something doesn’t make you stronger? Is it a true statement? Does stronger mean wiser? Are they talking about physical strength or emotional strength? I wish that I could tell you that I knew. I wish that I could tell you that I am stronger or that I have seen people become stronger, but I cannot. I saw a woman the other day begging for money to get crack. She literally was telling people that she needed a fix. I looked at her for a long time, and I understood that she had been broken. I understood that something did make her stronger, yet she was alive. Something happened that made her chose drugs over being sober.

I saw a young girl in the store with a baby in the front of the buggy and a baby seat in the bottom of the buggy. I smiled at her. She used to be me. I had kids holding onto me from all directions, and people just looked at me like I wasn’t shit and wasn’t gone be shit. I smile at these young ladies when I see them. I rarely get a smile back, and I understand why. We can be so cruel to our own, and then we wonder why we can’t get a break from those who don’t look like us. It is because we can’t get a break from us.

My coworker told me that she didn’t want to call off because she was recently moved to another team and has a new manager and she didn’t want him to think that she was lazy. What? I asked. It was a bad situation. The girl had the flu, and she has high blood pressure, and she is a diabetic. I took half of her shift because I could, because who wouldn’t because I know what she meant. I understood, but I didn’t understand. Why do we feel like that? Why do we work so hard for other people and care so much what other people will think? My thought is this, and hey, who says that I am right? My thought process tells me that if the person who you report to will think that when you are sick that you are lazy, then that person does not have your best interest at heart in the first place and they will find fault in anything you do no matter what.

I thought about the man at the gas station that I gave money to and how my son thought that I was being played. I want to permanently change the way he thinks. You can not be played when you give from your heart. Why? Because you are not looking for anything in return. Once the money exchanges hands, it is his to do with as he pleases. If I wanted him to have food I could have given him food. When I give my son money and ask him what he did with it, he looks at me like I am crazy. That is what I want him to understand. I gave it to him; he spent it on God only knows what and the thing about it is I don’t care what he bought. I gave it to him because I wanted him to have it.

Something broke the man, and at some point, he had to decide that he was going to ask people for money. I know that we all think that people beg because they are lazy. That is not always the case. These people have been broken at some point, and they said fuck it. Everyone’s endurance is not the same. I may be able to take ten no’s, and the next person may be able to take twenty, but maybe the person after that can only take one.

When I was an active card carrying member of the Sunday Morning Service, one of my favorite things to tell the young women that I mentored was that they could fall, but they could not wallow. We all fall. Donnie McClurkin sang it for us.


There is another song that I listen to now; sister Andra Day has created an anthem for me. Maya Angelou said,

Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past, that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise. I ask myself why we have to make the struggle such that it would be compared to death. It is hard enough as it is. Do we need to be made stronger? We are carrying the weight of hundreds of years of oppression on our shoulders just because of the color of our skin. People would rather be anything else, right Tiger? Right O.J?

I look at the blood of those who have died simply for being black. I search for the breath of my brother who asked to simply be able to breathe and was denied the right to air, that is free and does not belong to anyone man, but he was denied that right and lay dying on the ground. He did not die because he was weak, he died because he was killed, it did kill him, so how could he become stronger? We can remember his sacrifice, though unsolicited it was a sacrifice just the same and should be looked at with respect. Why are police afraid of black men? What has happened to make police afraid? Some will say that black men are more likely to have a gun on their person, others will say that they are disrespectful, and still others will say they are simply unpredictable and have to be dealt with as though they are hostile.

I hear people saying that they are talking with their sons because it is a matter of life and death. I wonder what they are saying. I don’t want my sons shot up in the street, but I will not have them shuffling and looking at the ground. You are men! Stand up! Stand up straight! Look another man in the eye and with those eyes you give the respect that you also demand.

Does anyone else see the problem with “The Talk”? We are essentially saying bow down or die. Fuck that. What doesn’t kill you today, may kill you tomorrow. You deserve the respect that you give. It is as simple as that. If they don’t shoot you while you are walking down the street in a hoodie eating your skittles, wearing a hoodie, they might shoot you while you are in the car with your family after you tell them that you have a gun and are a licensed firearm owner, or they might pull you over and because you are afraid and you do what your instinct tells you to do, and you run, they might shoot you in the back and once you are on the ground shoot you again and then lie and say you had a gun. What talk? What are we talking about? Whose talking? I can’t hear you. I would die for my right to equality. Yes, I would. I would lay it down right here for it. Why? Because I believe in reincarnation, there is nothing new under the sun (son) and when I come back next time this shit has to be 100% corrected.

Employees that I mentor, young women that I mentor, young men that I mentor, I tell them to leave a thing better then they found it. Don’t fuck it up and walk away like you didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t give up because you made it worse than it was. Don’t accept something how it is because you don’t want to think about what it would take to make it better.

My heart is always in the right place. You can’t please everybody, and you shouldn’t try to. Do what you can, do all that you can and whatever happens after that is what is supposed to happen.

You won’t always be right, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t do your best. You won’t always be the best, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t do your best. You won’t always be supported by the people that you want to support you, but you can appreciate the ones (or the one) who do.

We deserve to smile, be happy and not worry about what’s going to kill us if we are not strong. I don’t know if what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. I do know that if we have breath in our bodies that we owe it to ourselves to live and not just exist. Bobby McFerrin said, “Don’tWorry, Be Happy.”


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