A Midweek Meditation on Maya Angelou’s Legacy, Gabrielle Union’s Grace, the Mothers of the Movement and Protesting in the NFL

Midweek Meditations is a weekly column written by Julia-Elise Childs where she rounds up her favorite happenings in fashion, art, culture, and beyond. We figure that despite living fast, we should probably catch our breath every now and again.

“Still, we rise.” Words paraphrased from the late Maya Angelou’s famous poem, more relevant now than ever. Last week I mentioned the concept of transcendence and studied (albeit, in a rather light manner) how the collective “we” rises through creation. This week, I want to look at the other side of the coin – how both voices and action are used to rise when elevation seems improbable.

Gabrielle Union did it. The Mothers of the Movement did it.  Brandon Marshall did it, too. Each facing an uphill battle in the public eye, they elevate. They speak up. They show others that, no matter what darkness you’re navigating, there is a light to guide you home. There is hope.

Still, we rise. The cream always reaches the top.

Gabrielle Union Speaks Up on Sexual Abuse and Birth of a Nation


Gabrielle Union is a rape survivor playing a role as a rape survivor in a film that is written and directed by an acquitted rapist. Unpack that sentence and you’ll see the thick severity of such a predicament. Upon finding out that Nate Parker, writer and director of Birth of a Nation, was accused and acquitted of sexual assault, she took to the Los Angeles Times to pen a poignant op-ed on her feelings. Stating her main aspiration in the movie as “giving a voice to my character, who remains silent throughout the film,” Union reaches outside of that initial goal, using her platform to stimulate a larger discussion on sexual assault and consent.

There is no answer to such a situation, however Union has not let that fact silence her. This past weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival, Gabrielle spoke on using her platform as both a survivor and an artist, stating that her “personal discomfort is nothing compared to being a voice for people who feel absolutely voiceless and powerless.” Navigating a deeply troubling situation in the public eye with beauty and grace, Gabrielle Union illuminates the element of hope within despair.

The Mothers of the Movement Discuss Grief on Dr. Oz


The Mothers of the Movement guest-starred on the Dr. Oz show this week, along with mothers of slain police officers. The daytime tv show, revered by middle-age women nationwide, is known for discussing rather vanilla (emphasis on daytime) topics. However, this episode was an emotional and informational discussion on the five stages of grief, the psychological trauma of loss and how they are each moving forward with losing a loved one in a very public way. It is immensely powerfuly seeing two sets of women affected by loss and hearing their discussion on moving forward as Americans who are in the thick of handling the fallout of our country’s greatest bleeding wound: Racism.

Brandon Marshall Loses Endorsements, Gains Endorsements and Refuses to Back Down

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 08: Linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) of the Denver Broncos takes a knee during the national anthem before the first quarter. The Denver Broncos hosted the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, September 8, 2016. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

As I touched on in my last meditation, NFL player Colin Kapernick has triggered a slew of controversy by choosing to kneel during the National Anthem. Many of his colleagues have chosen to follow suit – and are feeling the effects. The Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall lost two endorsements for kneeling during the national anthem plus endured a slew of racist rhetoric – but that didn’t mean he gave up.

Instead, he met with Denver Police Chief Robert White, crowdsourcing particular questions to ask the police chief via his Twitter account. Additionally, Russel Simmons reached out to offer Marshall an endorsement on behalf of his personal company. When asked about his decision to kneel during the National Anthem, Marshall’s explanation was simple: “I’m not against the military, I’m not against America, I’m against social injustice.”

L’Agent Goodies…