Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Listening To That Little Voice...


                                                  

Listening to that little voice...

Yesterday evening I went to a nail salon to treat myself to a pedicure. I had not previously visited this salon. A "bonus" at the shop was that they offered a shoulder rub as you were seated in the chair with your feet under the toe dryer. I thought it too rough and I could have passed on it but I indulged my "special" treatment as it was short lived... The REAL bonus of going to that shop was meeting two new Sistah Girlz'. We laughed and talked politics and race and connected on that very special level because that's what Sistahs do when we gather... I love me some US!!!

At least 45 minutes after leaving the salon, I am climbing the stairs about to enter my building when I feel one of the gold chains I wear falling beneath my blouse. I put everything down and realize that it is the smaller of the two chains I wear. It is the chain with my gold scarab from Egypt that has broken. I have worn it for years. The chain, which is special because it was my Mom's, was there but no scarab. I practically disrobe on the steps leading into my building looking for my scarab. LOL!!! I realize that it must have broke during my "massage" from the guy at the nail salon... Immediately I back tracked my steps through the parking lot back to my car. Although well lighted, it was dark. I don't see it. A neighbor helps me in my search. Thank you neighbor but no luck...

The shop is closed by now. I am recalling that they were sweeping the floor when I left. My 18K gold charm that I bought in Egypt back in 1996 is gone. I lost my prize bracelet from that same trip in 2011 at my mentee's graduation from Binghamton University. It was my first time meeting her parents. They must have thought me crazy when I freaked out and left them at the restaurant to retrace my steps and find my bracelet! I looked like crazy, but no cigar. Somebody got a real find with that one... I remember how heart breaking that was. Insurance claim heartbreaking... It was valuable in more ways than one. I am not as upset about the scarab but I want it back just the same.

Just as I am about to throw in the towel on looking on any further and find resolve in that I enjoyed both pieces, that little voice tells me to go back to the shop and at least check the sidewalk between the salon and my car. Did I mention that before driving home I stopped at KFC? Shhh.... OK I did! I confess! Bad Girl!!!

So my first stop was KFC. I thought this too was a long shot because a young lady had just spilled a soda just before I left. Surely if I dropped my charm there, it got mopped up in the river of soda when they cleaned the floor. But still, I listen to that little voice and keep on my hunt for my lost charm.

I see the penny on the ground between the cars that I noticed previously so I know that I am on the right path. I enter the KFC. It is in the hood and it is chicken so yes, it is crowded! LOL!!! Forgive the stereotype. Hell, I was there too!!!

Anyway, lo and behold and MUCH to my delight, there was my little gold scarab all shiny laying on that burgundy floor just waiting for me to come back and find her. She is a lucky charm! She got stepped on and is a little bent but she is back where she belongs. Who da' thunk' it?

I could not believe it! I fist bumped the cashier who was also happy for me. The customers seemed oblivious to my joy which is a good thing because they might have noticed my little scarab on the floor and given her a new home at the local pawn shop. LOL!

A scarab is a lady bug. It symbolizes good luck. It was good luck that I found my scarab that has been with me for 22 years. It is a reminder of a happy time in my life, my first trip to Africa and one of best my vacations ever! Every Black person should see Egypt to understand, appreciate or be reminded of the depth of our greatness but that is a (his)story for another time, another blog. (smile).

The moral of this story and the reminder for me is to follow your mind. Revisit your dreams. Listen to that little voice that talks to us... Seek the impossible. Step out on faith. Good things and positive opportunities surely won't find or happen for us if we don't seek them. I listened to that little voice, sought my little charm and against all odds, I found it. Now if I could only apply that to other aspects of my life, life would be grand again...

It is Tuesday morning. I should be getting dressed for work but I sit in the middle of my bed writing this blog. Hint! Hint! I hear ya' little voice. Really I do... I hope that you are awakening to do something, go to a place, that brings you joy. If not, know that you are in control. Be the change you want to see... Listen to that the little voice that speaks to you. The voice knows... (smile)



Make it a Lady Bug/Scarab Lucky Kinda' Day!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Of Course I Watched the Wedding...



Some say why were others of us so taken with the wedding on yesterday. What did it have to do with us? Well, for many of us it was a breath of fresh air to be distracted from the constant noise and barrage of biased rhetoric that has become the norm in America.

I had not intended to watch the wedding in it's entirety, only in passing. I was sure I would catch the updates on the news for the next several days. But honestly, in light of all that we are dealing with, notwithstanding that a young Black woman was at the center of this historical moment, of course I watched the wedding!

The wedding was lighthearted, whimsical, historical, magical and just beautiful on every level! The wedding was the escape from reality I needed. Thankfully for Harry & Meghan, it is an authentic reality that they get to live. Thankfully for the rest of us, they were gracious enough to share special & welcoming moments of appreciation for diversity and purposeful acts and displays of intentional inclusion, ensuring for each of us, cultural and national pride and a true sense of belonging. It was truly a wonderful event..

This morning the positive beat goes on. I awake to see wonderful coverage on CBS Sunday Morning of the Kanneh-Mason family, the family of the young cellist who performed at the wedding on yesterday. He is blessed to have amazing parents and to come from a close knit family of seven children who are all talented classical music geniuses in their own right! How refreshing to see the media take a break from promoting the negative stereotype of the "broken and dysfunctional" Black family that it has created. Happy to start yet another day on an uplifting note. And then...

The Sunday morning noise begins. My mood is disturbed by stupid politicians trying to justify gun violence and nutty lawyers and law professors distracting us with trump propaganda and the Russian investigation... Yesterday was a day where I did not see or hear anything from that orange, illiterate, subhuman nightmare occupying the white house. How grand is that?

And you ask why some of us were glued to the TV for the wedding? Do you really? Sorry for you that you missed it... I am so very TIRED of America's reality of nonstop drama. I just want the noise to stop!!! Can Harry & Meghan get married again? Anything to stop the damn noise! Of course I watched the wedding! And on this Sunday morning, I chose to stop the noise. I chose to change the channel...

Happy Sunday Folks! 


Choose your noise wisely. Your health & well being may depend on it... 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Graduating with Conscious and Purpose...

I listened today as Howard University (HU) conferred the honor of Doctorate to Chadwick Boseman, a noted actor and HU alum, before he delivered his commencement address to the Class of 2018. I was moved when he spoke of standing his ground and being guided by his principle when asked to play what he thought was a role negatively depicting the Black experience as part of a soap opera cast.

He shared with the graduates, as they go forward, the importance of finding and being true to their purpose and to the proud spirit that was instilled in or confirmed for him and them while students at Howard. I respect that he shared with the graduates his willingness to risk being fired rather than compromise his principle of not promoting a negative perception or portrayal of his people for the world to see or for the love of money. He shared with the students that once he was able to speak to the execs' about how and what he was feeling about his character, he did his best work on that job on that next day which was not surprisingly his last day on that job.

He relieved himself of what was inner turmoil in the work place and therefore potentially toxic for him personally and spiritually. Of course he was fired. Of course he was labeled "difficult", which means he hit a nerve when he spoke his truth, that he has a mind and a voice of his own that he is willing and unafraid to use as his right, which means his mind has been freed from mental chains of any kind, which means he is fearless, guided by and lives by his own principle and which most importantly means that he sleeps well every night the good Lord sends. Oh, how I can relate...

I arrived at Howard University as a woman. I was already 30 years old and had had my underwhelming but thankfully successful undergraduate experience at a PWI (predominantly White institution). But for a very few professors and the benefits of the administrators and fellow participants of a summer program for Black, mostly first generation college students (EOF, Martin Luther King's Scholars Program), I was not nurtured, groomed nor recognized there...

Fortunately for me, unlike many graduate students, I was able to enjoy a significant bit of the real HU undergraduate experience because I had the honor of living in and being a GA (Graduate Assistant) to two incoming classes of blossoming fresh"women" and two years of undergraduate RA (Resident Assistants) students while supervising a dorm at HU. Being a role model to and watching confidence grow in these young ladies is one of my proudest and most fond memories. So many of them still reach out to thank me for some advice or encouragement I gave them or to share with me some positive memory of an experience with me that sometimes I can't even recall. It is so very moving...

I arrived at HU a rebel, I exited a confirmed rebel. It has always been my passion to advocate, defend and speak up for self and for others. I am willing to take risks as did our fore-parents and our valiant civil rights workers who put the collective good before their own good. There is no time for being cautious, taking "baby steps" or being afraid to speak up in the face of injustice. I merely drink the Kool-aid that has been served me and then take much delight in serving it right back, always professionally with a smile that is sure to be laced with lots and lots of honey, purposeful self restraint, tact, diplomacy and dignity of course. In accordance with the wisdom and advice of our esteemed First Lady Michelle Obama, I am appreciative to have a seat at the table but not so grateful that I will forsake why and how I came to be seated at the table. There just ain't no other way to operate... Speak up or Get Up!

As did Dr. Boseman when he found himself in a situation of choosing between work and being true to the principles that guide his life, I find myself there yet again. While my pride and strength was not ingrained in me at Howard, it was certainly fortified while there. I am unwilling to compromise my values for the sake of self at the expense of the collective. Where, I ask, would we be if that had been the position of those who came and paved a way before us? It was that shared pride and strength that likely drew me to Howard and that made me fit, belong and remain true to Howard. I treasure each of my three degrees to include an international experience abroad but it is my tenure at Howard University that is the most valued of my collegiate experiences. 

There is an unspoken, unbreakable, uncompromising responsibility and sense of self pride, therefore Black pride, that comes with having attended an HBCU and certainly for having the honor to call oneself a Howard alum, a Howard Bison. I was inspired to hear Dr. Boseman reinforce and pass that lesson along to yet another generation of young Bison and to remind and/or re-confirm that lesson for the rest of us. It was a beautiful Day, a great speech and yet another Great Memory from Howard University for the Class of 2018. Congratulations to graduates everywhere!

Dr. Boseman closed with these parting words of wisdom: 
This is your time. The light of new realization shines on you today. Howard's legacy is not wrapped up in the money that you will make but the challenges that you choose to confront. As you commit to your past, press on with pride and press on with purpose. God Bless you. 
I love you Howard. 



Howard Forever!  



Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Black, Woman, American and Unapologetically Proud...


I am with Tamron Hall 100%! I, too, am unapologetically Black and American. I would add to that Woman. I am also unapologetically Woman, Black Woman and proud... Black folks need to stop shying away from our greatness and that which makes us unique and special, that which so many others try to emulate/duplicate/appropriate/steal while at the same time using that which they emulate/duplicate/appropriate/steal in some mad attempt to belittle and/or make those of us who drink the Kool-Aid feel inadequate or less than... I never drank that Kool-Aid and never will... I love me some me and my people, no matter where I find us...

The unapologetic American thing is complicated but I get it. It's like staying in an abusive relationship for a variety of reasons. Like it or not, America is home. It is what we know. Travel and you will appreciate that it is that which is familiar for/to us; racism and all... Yes we are enriched by our African influence but America is our indoctrination, that which gives us our special flavor; a blended flavor created by us... More relevantly however, America is the place our Ancestors died building, albeit by torture, rape and force. To fail to claim or to deny their suffering and/or sacrifices made for our/their stake in this land is to unforgivably disrespect them and is the worst of affronts to them on all levels for that which they endured and withstood so that we may stand, so that we might be, so that we can call this land still sometimes foreign to us four centuries later, home. Be our Ancestors strong willed and determined enslaved Black folks, Black folks who hung as strange fruit from strange trees all across this nation, Black folks whose souls live on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean or on the beds of lakes, streams and bayous all across the south, or brave, Black folks who valiantly fought wars FOR this nation only to return and be treated not as the brave countryman they were or Black folks who were fearless and defiant civil rights workers and upon whose shoulders every recipient of a modern civil right stands; make them acknowledge it...

Like it or not, We, Black folks, are American and our blood is in this soil. We have earned and died for the right to call it home... To do otherwise, plays into the hands of those who want to deny our being, our existence and our claims for rights that are painfully, duly and rightfully ours... Like it or not, we have the blue passport many others want, at least pre-trump they did, and we should not take that lightly. Yes we leave America to live in other parts, it's called freedom which includes the freedom to travel and explore, but how many of us who move abroad actually give up our passport? Can't say I have met many... Why? Because America is our home... IJS...

In America, to be Black and proud is wrongfully depicted as to the exclusion of others. Not true. Not true at all... ALL folks should be proud of and celebrate who they are, for those of us who are Black and American, that includes us. We have MUCH to celebrate and should not limit that celebration of us and who we are to the shortest month of the year. Celebrate Black History and Black Excellence 365 so that (1) others know and can't forget but (2) and more importantly, so that WE know and NEVER forget!

Click here to check out Johnathan Capehart's Washington Post article and podcast with Tamron Hall, Tamron Hall, Unapologetically black and American.  Looking forward to celebrating my Sistah's next move... Thank you Mr. Capehart!


Monday, January 1, 2018

Kwanzaa Day 7: Be Reminded of Our Legacy & Who We Are...



Imani (ee-MAH-nee) 
Faith

"To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and 
the righteousness and victory of our struggle."


Imani, the final principle of Kwanzaa is likely the most important. It serves to remind us to recall our legacy, remember who we are and to believe in ourselves.  It reminds us of how far we have come, what we have accomplished and that we can do anything by faith when we set our minds to it...  

Against all odds, Black Americans have overcome struggles to see victory in so many ways; we survived slavery, we stood strong against jim crow, our valiant fight for civil rights still today, inspires so many. Worldwide, some have been inspired to start their own movements of resistance in their own lands. President Nelson Mandela was clear that his inspiration to dismantle apartheid in South Africa came from watching his people fight for our rights here in America. Others were so inspired by our might that they migrated to the US, some to be by our side and to aid in the struggle, others to benefit from the rewards of our struggles. No matter, we inspired many...  There exists no domestic group that can dare deny that the civil rights they enjoy in America today were not achieved based upon the groundwork laid by us or by employing the blue print we created in the 60's. Yes, we are a mighty people, we need to shout it, we need to always remind ourselves...  

Our faith and belief in ourselves was strong, our resilience knew no boundaries, our spirit was unbreakable, our pride was unmatched. Our heads may have been bloodied but never were they bowed...  

On this last day of Kwanzaa, it is my desire that we get back to our basics, that we are reminded to return to our roots, resume our inter-generational and transatlantic conversations passing down our stories and our traditions. I want that in 2018 we believe in and have faith in ourselves, that we stand tall, stand together in admiration and respect of one another, those who came before us, the fearless leaders who made a way for us and as examples to those who will succeed us. Our work is far from done... 


 
Happy Kwanzaa & New Year Day 2018!!!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Kwanzaa Day 6: Be Reminded to Be Creative About the Protection of Us...


Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) 
Creativity

"To do always as much as we can in the way that we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than when we inherited it."


Principle 6 of the celebration of Kwanzaa has a lot to do with our being creative in how we respect and protect our environments, our communities, our homes, our neighborhoods, our legacy...

As so many of us are at risk of being displaced from the place we call home due to the hostile take over of our communities by those vested in the very mean spirited sport of gentry-fication. Kuumba, the 6th Principle of Kwanzaa, is all the more relevant.

Our neglect of our environment, sometimes beyond our control, other times purposeful and carelessness on our part, makes us very vulnerable to being displaced from that which is familiar to us. We look up and before we know it, we don't recognize our own neighborhoods, that in which we have invested ourselves, our time, our energy, our creativity, raised our Families, fell in love, went to school, buried our ancestors, etc., etc...

Our Chocolate Cities are Chocolate no longer... Even where we were homeowners, our relevance and welcoming has been reduced to that of a tenant, a mere borrower of someone else's land or property and our presence is no longer wanted or welcome in these places we used to call home...

We must fight to preserve and protect our communities long before the greed and insensitivity of gentry-fication invades us. It's an old trick. Nothing new in this play book of "grab the land by any means necessary". Still, we fall victim to the game time and time again...

To protect our communities, we must be engaged in our communities, We must attend city council, school board and homeowner association meetings. We must MAKE elected officials work FOR us, make the cops servicing our communities engage our community, demand that merchants in our community respect and employ us; if not, boycott their stores... We must VOTE!, VOTE!, VOTE! & where possible RUN! RUN! RUN! for elected office, volunteer for board or commission seats, housing associations, involved ourselves in the courts, social service and other government agencies that wreak havoc on our lives and the like.

Hold members of our village who live amongst us accountable for violations of our peace and serenity in any kind of way; defacing our property, littering our streets. Snitching? Eliminate the concept... No such thing!!! Get back to truly being a village where certain behaviors are not tolerated and we are our children's, our Brothers' and our Sisters' keepers. Be bothered even when it, the problem, does not directly involve or affect us. Don't wait for the problem to knock on our door before we give a damn... Deal with the matter BECAUSE it is in the village, BECAUSE it is OUR village...

I know, this sounds like some Utopia like dream but is that not how all realities begin? Where necessary, we must be willing to take over or take back, our own neighborhoods before others do and we can no longer afford to call them home. WE can take leadership in making our communities better places to live and beneficial to us. Standing around scratching our heads after the fact does not serve us well as we get duped once again by the same ole' trick...

In 2018, let's get creative, purposeful, focused and damn busy about the business of protecting our legacy by becoming vested in the continuity of that which we have created in the communities in which we live and have come to call home...



Happy Kwanzaa & Happy New Year Folks!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Kwanzaa Day 5: Be Reminded to Celebrate Us...


Nia (nee-AH)
Purpose

"To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. To be responsible to those who came before (our Ancestors) and those who will follow (our descendants)"


Nia, our fifth principle and cause to celebrate Kwanzaa reminds me that unless and until we, Black Americans, respect, value, celebrate and appreciate ourselves, our history and our amazing journey, there is no real incentive for others to do so, no matter our insistence. We will lead by our example..

Unless and until we start shouting our story for ALL to hear, for ALL to know, most importantly our descendants to hear and know, we will remain vulnerable to the narratives, truthful or not, that others fabricate and choose to tell about us. Our truth, essence and beauty of US and OUR story will be lost, forever untold, shaped and/or defined by others...

Unless and until, we step into our greatness and recognize the magnificence of us, as do so many others as is evidenced by the endless acts of imitations of us when not by words about us, nor shall, nor should any other...

We, Black Americans, come from and have created in our own right a very rich and enviable culture and traditions that all too often we too take for granted, all too often we share too freely, all too often we do not protect and all too often we fail to fervently, consistently and proudly celebrate loudly and often enough...

Understandably someone recently asked about my interest in tracing my African roots. My response is always the same. While knowing the origin of my roots in Africa might make for interesting conversation, historical and/or contextual reference, to discover that I am a descendant of the likes of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Richard Smalls, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Ida B. Wells or more recently Fannie Lou Hamer, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and so many other of our Black American heroes and soldiers would send me over the moon with boundless, un-containable, uncontrollable and exuberant pride and joy!

Since the presidency of Barack Obama we, ourselves, have come to terms with and made it abundantly clear to all that "We Built This", this America so many call home, this America so many others are vested in claiming as their own and vowing to make it great again... Now is time we start living in and believing it as our truth, now is the time that we start being inspired by the countless examples of the power of us; from our mere presence and influence, to the power of our votes, to the value of our countless contributions.

Black Americans have given so much to this country and are so very much a core component of the story of success about which America so proudly loves to boast. We allow however, that our role in that story of American success is downplayed, distorted, not told, not celebrated. Seemingly we wait for permission, acceptance of and/or validation from or by others for us to tell our story. We don't need permission to celebrate us and certainly it is not required that any, other than US, validates US... We are a resilient, resourceful and proud people. We are a people who MUST tell and celebrate OUR own story. It is OUR story to tell...

Unless and until WE start protecting and telling the stories of OUR Ancestors, telling it loudly, telling it proudly and telling it often, there will be no story for our future generations to know, to tell, to celebrate.

In 2018, I demand that often and loudly, with purpose and conviction, that WE Lift Our Collective Voice to tell OUR stories and that often and regularly WE find cause to boldly, audaciously and unapologetically come together in Honor, Celebration and Restoration of the greatness of OUR Ancestors, OUR legacy, and to pass on OUR traditions through recitation of OUR stories in OUR fashion, in OUR tongue, with OUR flare as told by US about US! 

Building & Restoring Our Community through Celebration of Ourselves & Our History 365!   


Happy Kwanzaa Folks!