Affirmations, prayer and music have long been a part of my morning routine, where I find my peace and grounding at the top of my day. During the pandemic, my morning practice was my saving grace. While some days it just took a few minutes to feel inspired, by mid-week, it began to take hours to find the balance of peace and strength to arise and face the day. But there was an unfortunate layer to this.
Amid an unprecedented pandemic, we found ourselves being faced with recurring themes of black death and injustices across all media platforms, resulting in a communal grief unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Many of us sat in front of our screens in agony and grief for days upon days only to be shot in the face with another image, another sensationalized insensitive account of another INNOCENT black male being killed.
I remember specifically feeling helpless and traumatized by these constant horrific incidents that albeit we as black people are all too familiar with, were happening in a viral-like manner. I began to think of the mothers. The fathers. The children that are scarred for life by the premature deaths of their brothers, fathers, and husbands. And I eventually leaned against my kitchen counter and sobbed. Somewhat unconsciously I walk over to one of my candles sitting on the island, I light it and just stare at the flame. I think of their faces. I think of their mothers. I envision the men that were killed as somebody’s little boy…. I realize in that moment that I’ve been holding my breath, my fists are clenched and tension is the only thing keeping me standing. I exhale and say a silent prayer…
The moment I say amen to my prayer, I begin to become hopeful. Then I think…what if everyone has the same candle in their home, dedicated to protecting young black boys and men…? What if by lighting this candle we all become a link in a light-filled chain that inevitably surrounds them all… creating a circle of love, and a veil of protection…Spiritual Armour? Instantly my Spirits were lifted and I felt less helpless.
At this time, Addis VIV was a seed in mind and in my heart. Non-existent in the physical world. The only evidence of it was my unnamed candle bowl that radiated like the sun and gave me life at a time when so many were losing theirs. I knew at that moment, at the very least, I wanted to create one candle for everyone to share…it had to happen. I guess you could say this shared experience of darkness was the catalyst of me deciding to stand for our collective light…and find a way to bring it to others.
This is how the ‘Innocent’ candle came to fruition. Birthed during the pandemic in response to the senseless, racially motivated crimes against Black and brown men and boys around the world. I knew in my heart of hearts that the answer was right in our face.
We must become Guardians of the Innocent. And so it begins…
We. Are. Innocent.