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All right, my name is Eniola. I am a creative residing in Dallas, Texas. In addition to poetry, I serve as a worship leader at my home church. When I’m not leading worship, I work full time at Behind Every Door ministries, which is a nonprofit dedicated to transforming the narrative in inner city neighborhoods.
One of my favorite people in all of history is George Washington Carver. When he saw the reproach of cotton on former slaves–who I believe they will call sharecroppers at this point–but he saw the disparity and the reproach of picking cotton, even though they were picking it for money at this point, it still had a reproach because of what it meant for their ancestors behind them. And there’s this famous kind of story where he’s like, has Job 12: 7-8 circled in scripture. It says in essence, ask the birds and they’ll teach you. Ask the trees and they’ll, you can learn from them. It’s just this kind of poetic thing where George Washington Carver took that concept and literally went out into the fields and said, “Lord, tell me about the universe.” And the Lord said, That’s too much for your little mind, ask for something smaller. And then he says, well tell me about earth. And He said, That’s still too much. Ask again. He says, tell me about people. And He was like, still too much; ask again. And he’s like, flowers? God’s like, ask again. And he’s like, the peanut? And He’s like, there. Right there, He said. And according to George Washington Carver, the Lord spoke to him and said, I want you to find the amino acids and separate the fats and the oils and, and what we have now are over 300 uses of the peanut. But not only the peanut, but the sweet potato as well. But what a lot of people don’t know is those two things, plants actually, nourish the ground that they come, that they’re sewn in. So when the peanut is put in the earth, it nourishes the ground. And George Washington Carver got that information from the Lord. And he set in, in motion, a way for African Americans, in that time former slaves, to not have the reproach of picking cotton, but to now sowing seeds that not only nourish the ground, but also has so many uses and, and brings prosperity in the economy to their lives.
So for me, when I would process with the Lord about Eniola, How does Eniola show up now? I’m just so aware of how important it is to lean into the Father and find out from Him honestly. What it is in you that He wants you to tether to, by His word, by His Spirit, by His person, and then like, stay there. No matter what, because that’s what will actually change things. I see the value in marching, in protesting, in non-violent forms of protest. And like, I see that I’ve seen it in history. And I also know that there’s a time for everything. And God, and what God will do in one generation looks different. For George Washington Carver it was the peanut, for Martin Luther King, Jr. it was the silent marches, for Eniola, What is it Lord? And I felt like the Lord said that you need to sow seeds to see orchards. Because biblically, when someone works the land, they should eat the fruit of the land. But in America, there’s been a very painful divide between that. And so where one, one ethnicity, one group of people work the land, that the fruit of that land was taken from them and given to another group of people. So now there’s a reproach. And now we see areas where there’s high levels of disparity and poverty and then areas where there’s high levels of the opposite of that. And it’s like, Wow, shouldn’t it be that you’re eating the fruit of the land that you worked for, that your ancestors worked for?
After the death of Ahmaud Arbery, I got a lot of like, text messages and calls and Instagram DMs from close friends who, on one hand, were like, “How are you? How are you dealing with this?” and then on the other hand, were like, dealing with how the ideology of racism has like, kind of exploded, in their own worlds as well; as it did for a lot of us. And what we saw in that time was many people who maybe had looked at the concept of racism from afar and the disparities that come from that space and were like, “Oh, it’s in our faces now. Like, I can’t get away from it.” And so I specifically had friends who sent me, maybe videos that disagreed with my belief that there is current systemic racism.
When you hear the stories that come up, a lot of times you immediately put yourself in the shoes of one of the people in the story. And for my friend, they put themselves in the shoes of the other person and I put myself in the shoes of Ahmaud Arbery. And I said, “Well, if it was me, would you be, would you be digging for the facts? Would you be bringing up my own history? Or would you also be in the streets marching? Because I know you love me. You’ve told me that so many times. You’ve shown me that love. But in this instance, because you don’t know this person, it’s really easy for you to remove their humanity and begin to say why they are, maybe they deserved what happened to them.” And for me, my immediate reaction was to be angry. So I needed, I had to navigate the anger in my heart. I had to figure out like, Alright God, I don’t want my narrative to be told by any movement, by any person because I’m not. Eniola is not a movement. She’s a person with a heart, that has an opinion and emotions and feelings.
So what I did was, I had to come to the table with my friend, and I had to say, “Hey, we need to have this conversation. You’re asking my opinion…” And for a little bit of context, the video that my friend sent me, the title of it was, it was called The truth about Ahmaud Arbery. The video was kind of kind of deconstructing what happened in a way that made it almost less of what it actually was and more of something that was easy to kind of explain away. And I told my friend, I said, “Hey, I, I cannot give you my opinion on how this feels. Because I’m not in the business of deconstructing these stories. I’m not in the business of–and maybe there’s a time for it–but I’m not an investigative reporter. I’m Eniola, your friend, who’s seen someone who looks like her, be killed and not for the first time in a nation that has a history of killing people who look like me.
The fruit of that conversation was depth, was, was my friend looking at me and then saying, “Eniola, one of the reasons why it can be difficult to be in a space with you is because you carry this so hard, heavy in your heart to the point that when you begin to talk from that place of passion, I feel like the anger that you have towards the situation, you have it towards me. And so you’ve pre-determined that I’m also racist, or that if something comes up in my heart, that there’s no grace or room for me to make a mistake.” And I was confronted with my own, like,
the way that I hadn’t created safe space. While simultaneously thinking like, “Why do I have to be the one to create safe space for you?” You know, it was all of those feelings.
When you’re talking to me, even if what you’re saying is, is from a place of generalizing, I’m gonna do my best to bring it down to the two of us in this moment. And if there’s something you’re not understanding, I’ll do my best to help you understand. And if, and if I’m exhausted, I’m going to tell you that I’m tired. And it’s just kind of standing at a table and remembering I don’t, I don’t want an illusion or a shadow of unity. I want the reality of oneness. I want to be one with you and that’s going to take more work than unity. Unity we can be really comfortable with I can, we can be unified in the fact that we both think racism is terrible, but we’re one when, when something happens when you watch a film, or hear a joke, and you’re like, I can’t laugh at that because that’s my sister/me.
You know, when oneness is about…Oneness is more about humanity. And unity, honestly can be about our, maybe our comfortability. When I, when I go to places and go to see people like, I sit in the car before conversations and I ask the Holy Spirit to…In any way that maybe I have relinquished His leadership, I want to recalibrate my heart, because I want to come back to wherever You are so that when I’m talking to people, that it’s it’s You that is exchanged. It’s, it’s the, it’s the, it’s the Oneness that only comes from the Lord.
I’m gonna become a person whose hands are open, who, I’m holding fast to my allegiance to Jesus. But then when it comes to, for example, the political conversations, it’s really easy to– politics is about ideals. Politics is not about people. And so I find that my political leanings, I’m finding I need to walk open handedly. There’s been all this debate about like, affirmative action and all these things, and it’s like, I understand why there’s a debate. The debate is there because that isn’t the solution. The solution to welfare is not the solution. They are band aids that don’t even do justice to the disparity. What people need is to be looked at in the eyes and handed the same equal, literally, opportunities to get equity to get to receive the fruit of what they’ve paid for. But I don’t know how that happens. How do we level the playing field? How do we bring mountains low and valleys up?
And so I think our generation’s job is to do that in the mindsets of our kids. Like, we start by teaching them a kingdom perspective on life. Not a religious, not a political, but a kingdom perspective. And then they take…You know, the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way they should go.” They take the way they should go with the tools that they’ve been handed. They build a reality that maybe I can’t fathom because I’ve never, I’ve never been, I’ve never seen that before.I imagine if George Washington Carver knew that years from now, iPhones would exist, he would have thought different about life. But I don’t even think he could fathom, like people being able to see what someone else is doing over there on a device this big at all, you know? And so there’s, there are things we cannot fathom, but there are ideas and ideals that we can intentionally pour into the generation coming in and honestly just, just become people who are like, I cannot live a life where I exchange what I need to give the next generation for what’s comforting for me right now. Like I have to be willing to die for this.
So I just, we sow seeds to see orchards. I think that’s something I’ve adopted; the Lord, the Lord put it on my heart, because I was like, “God, I don’t know how to do this without You.” And, and I was like, “God, I’m going to sow seeds to see orchards.” It might, I might not see the end of it in my lifetime, but my kids, kids, kids probably will because of what I’ve done. And I really believe like, the expression of today and the expression of what we, what needs to happen and what needs to change has to be rooted in the kingdom because it actually is the only thing that will last. Like, people may get persecuted. People may not like what people say, that it’s Jesus and Jesus alone. But at the end of the day, because Jesus is who He is. His is the only thing that will last, everything else will fracture. Everything else will fall, will divide, will poison, but Jesus–there’s already a trajectory that involves everyone. The Lord is bringing about a people who are like, “It’s not just my justice, it’s justice, period and it’s righteousness.” Those two things come from the Lord and they’re a river that, that starts at the throne and then it flows and brings healing to the nations.