With so much fighting going on in the world I knew it was my time to step up. I remember the day clearly; it was June 12, 2016, when the breaking news aired, a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, where I reside. It felt like yesterday when friends took me there for my birthday in reality it was years ago. That’s right many people visited, it didn’t mean you had to be a member of the LGBTQ community. The news felt like someone kicked me in the stomach, as I knew a friend that worked there and others that were connected to my friends. The reports that followed, 49 in total lost their lives, the news shook Orlando hard. I remember taking my son to the site and seeing the stuffed animals, drawings, and love notes, our hearts crushed at the thought of families mourning and hurting for their loss. But Orlando wasn’t the only city that experienced losses to the LGBTQ community; according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence programs, 33 additional hate violence homicides took place in the first 8 months of 2017.
In fact 2017 was one of the deadliest years for mass shootings from the Las Vegas Massacre in October to the Texas church shooting in November. Why is there so much violence? One could choose to blame it on guns but the reality is it all boils down to one word, “hate.” Why hate? Just because someone is of a sexual gender, a specific religion, a particular color of skin, or chooses to date the same gender does it make them wrong? Who says? If you ask me it all stems from judgment. A conditioned way of thinking that has been programmed by generations and it doesn’t mean it’s right. Judgment starts at a young age as we are conditioned by our upbringing and experiences and it can lead to bullying.
In August 2011, I moved back to Orlando from New Jersey and enrolled my son who was seven years old at the time into Elementary school and what followed for the rest of his enrollment, was the biggest learning lesson of both of our lives. Mason was bullied for four years and yes I took a stand but not just against the school, I took a stand in teaching my son to live his truth. That no matter what happens in life and no matter what age you are there is a form of bullying that takes place all around us and if he just lives his truth to the core inner being of who he was created to be everything else will take care of itself. I am proud to say that now at the age of almost 14 he does just that, lives his truth despite others judgment.
But not all kids are as fortunate as my son. According to Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, “More than one out of every five (20.8%) students report being bullied and the reasons for being bullied reported most often by students include physical appearance, race/ethnicity, gender, disability, religion, and sexual orientation.” According to Yale University, bully victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide and according to ABC News 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of the fear of bullying. It has been reported that Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teens.
Knowing all of this and everything that we have personally been through how could I possibly sit by and watch it all happen? I couldn’t that’s why I decided to step up and show up. My part may be small but at least I have made the decision to take a stand. That’s why I created the empowering song, Everybody Cross The Line, to support the movement for equality. On January 25, 2018, I collaborated with artists, ATK and J.None to compose this inspiring song. As an abuse survivor and single female parent, I have experienced the stigma of what the terms carry. I wanted to take listeners to a place of Freedom, a place of Equality where there is no judgment and no pain. My mission for the song, Everybody Cross The Line is to inspire listeners to rise up from being a victim and take them to a place of victory, a place where they can find courage and freedom when they remove the barriers that hold them back by crossing the line. I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to live their truth and I hope the song empowers listeners to lay down judgment and become their authentic self for when each person does the world becomes a more loving place to live in.
The song is in support of Erin Gruwell’s movie, Freedom Writers and Oprah’s support for Challenge Day and also for Oprah’s Golden Globe speech and Jennelle Monae’s message, Time’s Up at the Grammys. If we all join together and do our part change will happen, voices will be heard, gratitude and acceptance for each other and the role that we play by being born will collectively work in synchronicity creating a beautiful masterpiece which is the best legacy to leave behind, a continued movement that encourages beauty for ashes.