Meet Jessica Cobbs

Ten years ago, Jessica was my student. Now she’s an actress and a model using her voice and calling for change.

I don’t say much because I like to stay in silence. I’ve been told many times—your nickname should be MIA or ghost but when I need to speak I will and I will state all facts because I’ve watched for years, studied for so long, and witnessed first hand!

7 years old (Louisiana) – my teacher talked about me to my face, called me stupid, said I would never be anything.

9 years old (Virginia) – walking home from school a group of kids on the back of a pick up truck threw bottles at my feet and yelled, “dance monkey dance.” I ran home (thank God for my father’s speed) but yet they yelled, “run little ni*** run”… I never told my mother but I cried for days from bad dreams.

10 or 11 years old (Tennessee) – my teacher called me the n** word, wouldn’t let me use the restroom, and put F’s on my papers without even looking at it.

15 years old (Texas) – A kid at school said I can pass/be cool with both bc I’m “paper bag brown” so I can sit at both tables. He said if I was a few shades darker I couldn’t sit with them bc then I would be targeted and they would see me as the rest…in his eyes “trouble makers.”

22 years old (working a flight in nyc): “you’re pretty for a black girl. I’m sure your ancestors were some of us bc your hair is wayyy too pretty and you’re way too educated to be just a black. Are you sure you’re black sweetheart? I just never seen one like you.”

The list goes on from different places around the world!! But I can honestly say I’ve met the most beautiful amazing God given people in ALL races! We all are one. We all bleed the same red blood. WE ALL ARE HUMANS!! My life matters just like the next and for those who think mine or my brothers and sisters do not, I will pray for your souls. Everyone be careful and stay prayed up. Our time is coming and it’s closer than we think.

We all bleed the same red blood.

Jessica Cobbs, May 31, 2020

Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
"Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

38 thoughts on “Meet Jessica Cobbs

  1. Wow, great post Crystal. It should be hard to see how some people can be such A——- to others, but it is not. We are a judgy species and seem to think that everyone should hear our thoughts, good or bad and that might, makes right. We are watching The 13th on Netflix right now and it is horrifying to see that this discrimination that started 400 years ago, came from the highest levels in more recent times and still comes from the highest levels. When will we learn? Allan

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    1. I don’t get it, but I suppose it’s about what a person experiences growing up. I’m still hopeful that adult perspectives can change. Thanks for joining this conversation and bringing The 13th to my attention.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ll think I’m “enlightened” – but also I only know from the USA what happens to us through “soft power”. So I had stuck to that show I had loved, the Cosby Show, which was so cool and funny that I couldn’t even suspect what you’re all talking about now….

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    1. My experience growing up was limited, too. The minority in my small Oklahoma hometown was Hispanic, mostly Mexican at the time. There was one African American boy in my entire high school, and I was growing up with the Cosbys, too. Even as a teacher, I had no real understanding of the racism that still exists. At age 50, I’m starting to understand, and it breaks my heart.

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  3. Thank you for this post. And thank you, Jessica, for speaking words that prove love can bloom out of the seeds of ignorance and fear.
    I discovered Maya Angelou in my jr. high library in rural Oklahoma, and I adopted her as my own. I may not share her skin color, but I find myself in her formative experiences, and “Still I Rise” is always good medicine, especially when I’m feeling helpless and small.
    Last thing: I wonder what would happen if, instead of letting skin color serve as a line of demarcation, we chose to celebrate all colors–bold or bland–as evidence that we were created by a big God who adores you and me so much that he endowed us with shades of color as unique as our fingerprints.
    May God bless us all with kaleidoscope hearts. Amen.

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    1. Amen. I’m from rural Oklahoma, too, but I missed out on Maya Angelou until around age 30. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is my all-time favorite book, and I carry her with me as if she were my grandmother who taught me much. Thank you for your words here!

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      1. Yes, ma’am. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is where I found her, too. As a teacher, I’m embarrassed to admit that I still have the Guymon Junior High’s copy of the book. I used birthday money to pay the fine back in the day because I wasn’t giving it back!

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  4. Why are we such cruel people? Who is teaching our children to behave in such vulgar ways? I can’t believe Jessica was able to overcome those hateful experiences and refocus her heart on loving God and others. Wow! You’re amazing. Thank you for this glimpse into your life Jessica. Let’s keep the pressure on for change, we can do anything if we work together, as you say we all bleed the same blood.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent post, both of you! And Mayou Angelo’s “Still I Rise” is especially pertinent and poignant in today’s culture. I’m still reeling from the George Floyd murder, and others, that I find it hard to articulate my thoughts. I grew up in the Deep South where I was taught to respect all people — not necessarily like them, but treat them with dignity and respect. Now my attitude has matured to the point that recognizing the sanctity, the sacredness of life, as a God-given gift and grace.

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  6. Very powerful! My wife and I are inter-racial and I could tell you some stories. People still stare, sometimes we get really bad service at a restaurant. We’ve also been followed in stores many times by suspicious employees. One time we went into store separately and my wife was followed in a horrible way by the white female worker who looked really worried. We got out of there. What kind of store was it? A Christian bookstore. I’m not kidding.

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  7. I love that Maya Angelou encouraged racial unity, I remember hearing her speak when I was in college. She was funny and full of amazing stories. She talked about how she stood up for white hippie kids who were being harassed by a store owner for being in front of his store with a guitar. She said, “These are my kids! Stop yelling at them!” I never forgot her message that we’re a family. I think we need wise leaders like her but I don’t see the message of unity anymore that she and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.

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  8. This is a great feature, Crystal. It’s hard to ignore someone’s personal experiences–they happened. It’s also heard to ignore someone’s personal achievements–they happened too. We are more alike than different. Thanks for the reminder.

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  9. I read “I know why the caged bird sings” and, with all the pain felt by Maya and her account, there is light on for life. example of strength, determination, dignity, integrity and a full voice in freedom. let us all be with the urgency that life demands free from any kind of prejudice. thank you very so for the post.

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  10. Crystal, thank you for posting Jessica’s words. Her personal testimony is so important to bringing awareness to the reality of racism. She possesses a beautiful, calming strength. I am thankful for her boldness in sharing.

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    1. I didn’t grow up seeing the racism or brutality that we see today, and I remember very few conversations about race in my family. As an adult, I have been naive to racism because it didn’t affect me or make the news as often. But since the last US election and with cameras in almost every hand, the racism in this country has come to light more and more, and cannot be ignored. We have to find a way forward.

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  11. The Maya Angelou poem is on my list of favorites. “Still I Rise” is so beautiful, ferocious, noble, and true, may it be embedded deeply within your own personhood, womanhood, and soul. ~~Jane

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