My name is Laquetia Doreen Williams. I come from the womb of a vibrant white female, which was nearly killed by her uncle once he found out the child growing inside of her was the seed of an African American/ Native American Indian male. Her name is Brenda Kay Harris Williams and my father name is Jerry Rowell. My mother had to run away from the bullets aimed at her to save my life. My father gave up his right to raise me to save his life. This is the world I know… a world where I learned how to survive from day one. Everything about me has been about the need to survive the abuse, ignorance, and lack of love around me. I am 33 years old and now a mother to a beautiful twelve year old girl, named Jasmine. It is because of her I am going back to college. In everything I have fought against, I did not see that I was teaching my own daughter all my fears. I was teaching her how to survive, not, how to truly live up to all she already is. This had to stop, the cycle of no self worthiness passed down from the women before me in my family. This is one of my main reasons for coming to Guilford College. I work at Aetna (insurance) as a customer service representative. Although, my love is working with kids. I would like to get my Bachelors degree so that I may serve my Faith internationally. It is called travel teaching, I want to travel to another country and teach English as a second language for a profession. This way I can give to the community a tool that can be useful, in return for the many gifts I would receive just by being there. I have friends that are already serving the Faith in this capacity. They remind me of my responsibility to serving and the ability to grow immensely from it. My religious background is Baha’i. My mom being the person she is has investigated many different religions and has taken me along with my siblings on the journey with her. But it wasn’t until she meet some Bahai’s that I became immediately drawn to my relationship with GOD. I went to many different churches growing up never once did I feel as though I was a child of GOD. I mean I knew it on the outside but did not feel it on the inside until I started reading the Writings of Bahaullah. All the questions I had about why so many different religions existed ,why people treat one another so cruel just because they are not used to experiencing anything foreign to them, etc..was answered for me finally. What I have learned is the answer was always there in all the Holy Writings. (Bible, Koran, Kitab-i- Aqdas) Sorry for getting off subject. This is my first course in Religious Studies. I am amazed at the many different roads religion has traveled, just here in America. I really want to learn the history, just so I can see where people get their thought patterns from. As far as my knowledge on the subject of African American religion as a course of study, I have none. Only what I have witnessed in growing up in the community. I know it is where I find my center when I am lost. I find a lesson in every passage I read, not one that is explained to me by someone else (preacher). I honestly feel everyone has the capacity to know God on their own if they choose to. This is where I have mixed views with the Church hence my getting kicked out of one at a young age for my views. Yet it also teaches me of my staying power, the ability to endure all things and rise above my fears to recognize I am a daughter of God. To witness women come alive in their own rights in the churches after being told over and over again they are nothing, feeds me on so many levels. That kind of teaching I have not received outside of the African American Churches. And I have been a lot of places thanks to my mom quest to build a real and true relationship with God. Honestly I am taking this course so that I may learn of my heritage ,the dates,times,places,events that led up to this moment in time. I want to learn why I do some of the things I do unconsciously. I am learning now where some of the thinking of folks come from and it is extremely painful at times. But how can I grow and teach my daughter if I first don’t acquire it. The only thing I think I can contribute to the course is my honesty and the fact that I know that if we take the time to create relationships with others that are different than what we are use to, maybe no one else will have to be strip of their family history based on who they love. Right now I can’t tell my daughter where she comes from other than my mother and father. I never went back to find out because it was too painful for even my mother to revisit. Therefore she has created a family for me thru friendships she has made along the way. My family consists of Persians, Mexicans, African Americans, Irish, Muslims, Jews, Asians, everything and everyone under the Sun. This is my heritage and now my daughter’s. What I feel I can learn most from this course is how people categorize their beliefs. How I can speak in different circles as well since my professor is big on words and their meaning. I have a hard time getting my thoughts out so this should be very interesting and challenging at the same time. I also feel I can learn how to read the works of theologians and interept what they are saying. I am finding it is necessary for me to carry a dictionary.
(A Responce to My Daughter)
What’s Natural? Ask My Daughter!
I was sitting and proofing one of my daughter's papers for her college course on African-American religion. When I had an epiphany, what's natural? In this paper I saw a lot of myself coming through her and her experiences. I would say that is natural.
There was pain, humor, chaos, joy and sharing of stories in her paper and I would say that's natural. What may not seem natural to some could be perfectly natural to others.
I was saddened to learn that my daughter would be dropping this class due to a clash of personalities between her and the instructor but that can be natural too. I felt they could learn a lot from one another and their experiences. Maybe in another place and time.
My daughter had an attitude that I felt was natural. She felt offended that the instructor, whom was white, was teaching a course about a topic from an observation perspective rather than a natural experience,whom she felt should have been at least receptive of the differing opinions by those she was speaking of. I thought that that was a natural response. However, there was much they could have gained from their debates.
The instructor complained about my daughter's attitude and what she felt was judgmental in nature. That was a natural response from her, I ascertained. Again, what is natural for some it is not for others? My daughter felt perfectly natural in her responses coming from her experiences.
I think this class should have been titled, “The History of the Black Church”, and then it would not have been interpreted as a religion that formed and belonged to the African-Americans. This was my daughter's natural complaint, that Africans did not adopt Christianity. It was forced on them in slavery and everything that was natural and disrespected was stomped out as invalid by people that looked like her instructor.
Now, my daughter sat in a classroom with an instructor who was offended by her natural responses to a topic about her natural ancestors and she couldn't relate to the instructor being offended.
It should have occurred to the both of them that what they were experiencing by choice of their passions was completely natural. When we take the time to realize how much we agree with people rather than a debate of egos (conditioned thinking) we can get to the core of what we really believe. To consider that this instructor must have had a deep interest in people learning history, because of her course she chose to teach, is admirable. When one looks at the lack of understanding among diverse groups it’s usually because they lack historical information. To offer this course is an asset to the school, but there has to be an acceptance of every body, that there will be natural responses due to experiences.
For the instructor, not to expect this, is a tragedy as well to the students. Age also will play a factor in teaching history. Dates and times memorized by someone else's definition are not always blatantly accepted as fact, according to experience. There should be room for debate and openness to a natural flow.
What I would like to say to instructors in these situations with students that have passion in their voice, is to take a moment with them in private to say that they may have some valid points. However, it doesn't pertain to your lesson plan. To abuse ones authority over a class by trying to shut down a voice only destroys your own voice. We have to encourage others to evolve or we all will die! This is a natural organic process.
I would like to encourage my daughter as well, along with her instructor to continue to hear their voices from within, as it evolves and finds a venue where they can be heard. That is a natural process as well for healing of the mind, heart and soul.
I would like to say that I am very proud that my daughter is finding the power of her voice through the pen and I am honored that she is sharing that here at “The Writer's Café”.