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Divided We Fall: A Call to Unite the [un]United States

Author’s note: This call to unite is not:

  • An attempt to bash the United States of America. Contrarily, I proudly serve as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. My service has afforded me many opportunities that have allowed me to open my aperture and further develop my perspective.
  • An expression of some form of political affiliation. I will remain apolitical throughout the entire post.

Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.

Matthew 12:25 NLT

Where we are now

I do not enjoy watching or reading the news. Instead of reporting to inform, many stories are developed to simply highlight our differences in a way that polarizes our opinions, beliefs, characteristics, and values. Recent history informs us that our country has fought to eradicate racial segregation. Even so, a more dangerous and complex form of segregation has emerged. We find ourselves segregated by race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, marital status, and more. The danger in this form of segregation lies in its covertness. It is shielded by our conscious and unconscious biases and driven by our inability or unwillingness to unite. It is time that we expose all forms of submersible segregation and work together towards achieving common goals. I envision that the road to unity requires a three-phased approach that each of us can implement into our daily affairs.

Phase 1: Community.

I believe to develop “community,” we must assemble people with diverse thoughts, behaviors, and experiences into the same physical (or virtual) area. This requires each member of the newly-assembled team to be open-minded and willing to actively listen to understand–forgoing any preconceived notions. Everyone must be willing to apply the timeless advice that transcends generations: you have two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as you talk.

Phase 2: Togetherness.

Togetherness begins with establishing commonalities. This requires all parties to listen to understand vice listen to respond. Additionally, everyone should respect others’ opinions and feelings while maintaining an unwavering determination to collaboratively work towards shared goals. This does not mean we should agree on everything. Contrarily, I believe respectful disagreements based upon our varying perspectives creates a more well-rounded and thoroughly discussed solution. The differences each person brings to the team strengthens the collaborative effort unless those differences are highlighted for personal gain. Ultimately, togetherness is all about respect and ensuring that regardless of everyone’s background or beliefs, we are all working towards a common goal.

Phase 3: Unity.

Unity is the intangible bond that is developed over time from consistent collaborative efforts. It is an agreement that no matter the circumstance, our community will consistently work together towards a solution. Though some sources may attempt to persuade you otherwise and though some exist simply to cause division, unity is achievable. It requires and indestructible will and relentless focus on progression and collaboration. It requires each member of the community to think less of themselves and more about the betterment of the team as a whole.

If unity is the ultimate goal then we must uproot all forms of segregation and bias. We must not shy away from discussing the topics that divide us; for if we do, hatred, division, and segregation will continue to spread like weeds and strangle all hopes of collaboration and unity.

This weekend, we celebrate independence as a country; however, the people must become unified to maintain that independence. So as we celebrate our fight for independence, I urge you to join a new fight–the fight to unite. Remember this: it’s hard to win a battle when you view the battlefield from only your perspective, and it’s impossible to win a battle when you misidentify the enemy. The enemy is segregation, and we are better together. Let’s fight!

Take Action: Spark a conversation with someone who shares a different opinion or perspective. Learn about them and seek to understand what forms their opinion. Listen intently and ask open-ended questions only to get a better understanding. The fight to unite begins with you!

Feel free to like, share, comment, debate with me, etc. Most importantly, let’s continue the conversation!

Zeek Burse – One People
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Speak Out

by Aubrie Owens

*Quick commentary from Olaolu: I created Parent-Child-Connect to provide resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to connect with their children. I believe a large part of that mission is to use my platform to encourage and spread hope! With that in mind, I am excited to share the virtual stage with a great friend who has been like family to us since we started active duty service in 2013! Meet, Aubrie Owens aka my wife’s bestie. She is excited to start sharing a small portion of her story to encourage, educate, and empower you! Like, share, comment, enjoy!*

Kyle and Aubrie Owens

I have been contemplating writing this. Social media tends to highlight happy moments, but in truth, it’s not all happiness. I have been struggling with endometriosis for many years now. For those who don’t know, endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is “a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus” (source: mayoclinic.org).  They say one in every ten women struggle with this condition. It has caused me infertility and pain for many years, and I have had countless miscarriages and heartbreak because of it. It hasn’t all been heartbreak though. My husband Kyle and I have also had many joys giving birth to a beautiful daughter named Yuri and watching Ava be a wonderful big sister. I have also been fortunate to have amazing doctors and family/friend support. 

How it started: 

Around 2013, I went to the ER with abdominal pain. The doctors discovered a cyst the size of a softball near my ovary, and they determined surgery was the best option. During the surgery, they identified that I had severe endometriosis. They advised me to immediately start consulting a fertility doctor if I would like to have children in the future. This led us to visit multiple doctors which, in turn, led them to prescribe me multiple medications. Numerous Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments resulted in many miscarriages. Finally, in 2016 (our last IVF attempt), I became pregnant with Yuri. 

After months of heartbreak and disappointment, we finally conceived a child! However, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. In 2017 I almost lost my life, and we almost lost Yuri. I had appendicitis that resulted in sepsis, and Yuri and I would spend months in the hospital trying to recover. 

The journey continues: 

I have accepted the hard truth; it is time for a full hysterectomy. I am thankful I was able to conceive my two children, but I do not want to continue to live with the pain. I do not write this for sympathy but in hopes I can reach another woman who is going through a struggling time. Whether you have had to endure a chronic illness or disorder, a miscarriage, or pain that led to infertility, I am here. We as women must choose what is best for us and never let others dictate how we feel. 

Today, I ask for good vibes and prayers as I go in for surgery. I’m going to be straight with all of you, I am scared. The last time I went in for surgery I almost lost my life and my child. But I am thankful for the support of my family, friends, and wonderful doctors. I am appreciative of my husband who has supported me throughout many trying times. He held me as I cried over the children we lost. He spent countless hours with me in the hospital when I was ill, and stayed most nights with Yuri in the NICU.  

As silly as it sounds, part of me feels like I am losing my ability to be a woman. I will never be able to carry another child. It is especially painful because people often ask, “are you going to try again for a boy?” I’ve decided my health and my body means more to me than bringing another life into this world. Getting to spend time with my family pain free will be the most rewarding joy. 

I write this today as an encouragement to you all. Speak out! Do what you feel is best for YOU. In a world of uncertainty, your happiness and your health is the number one priority.

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🚨Wisdom, Strength, and Endurance Scholarship Recipients Announced!🚨

Today we (The Ogunyemi Family Foundation) Announced the winners of the Wisdom, Strength, and Endurance Scholarship; VERY deserving recipients!! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

Want to donate to the awesome cause?? Click here!

Dillon Stokes is the “the rose that grew through the crack!” Raised by a single mother, Dillon has done his best apply himself and overcome any obstacle that comes his way. As a result, Dillon has maintained above a 4.0 Grade Point Average, and he was accepted into several universities, including LATech and Grambling State.

Dillon attributes his success to his faith in God, and his active participation in several departments at Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church Ruston is how he shows his gratitude.

Ashton Jackson knows how to overcome adversity through persistence and resiliency! Active in clubs at Lincoln Preparatory School and his local church, Ashton has learned to apply the resiliency he has built throughout his life to excel at school.  A gentleman and a scholar, Ashton knows how to get the job done!

What is the Wisdom, Strength, and Endurance Scholarship?? 🤔

The Ogunyemi Family Foundation, Inc. established the Wisdom, Strength, and Endurance Scholarship to provide underrepresented minority students the opportunity to pursue higher education by alleviating and/or eliminating the financial barriers to the student’s success. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.7% of 2016 high school graduates had enrolled in college by October 2016. The college enrollment rates of African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos during 2016 was 58.2% and 72% respectively. Lower income students can only afford to attend roughly 3% of colleges in the U.S. without a loan.

The scholarship seeks to award students who have triumphed in the face of adversity, not allowing circumstances to separate them from achieving their dreams! 💡

Congratulations scholars!! 👨🏾‍🏫