Posted in Political, Social Commentary, Work Related

Juneteenth – Independence Day for All

When people think of independence in America, they usually think of the 4th of July, the day the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Hardly a thought is given to the fact that many of those who signed the document were, in fact, slaveholders. On June 19, 1865, 89 years after the Declaration of Independence, and two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed all enslaved people in the rebellious territories, the remaining legally enslaved people of Texas were given their freedom.

On that day, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas received the news of their freedom from Major General Gordon Granger who arrived with 2,000 Federal soldiers to establish a union presence to inform the enslaved people  that they were legally freed people—the Civil War had ended.  Thus, Juneteenth was born.

Juneteenth has been celebrated over the years with parades, picnics, and large family gatherings. These celebrations include lots of entertainment and great food with red velvet cake being a staple to represent the bloodshed and resilience of the enslaved people.

In 1980, Texas officially recognized the day as a state holiday with “partial staffing.” In 2020, Virginia, New York, and New Jersey officially recognized the holiday with paid leave for state employees. Last month, Washington also has officially recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees. Many companies such as Nike, Citigroup, and Twitter have made Juneteenth a paid holiday for employees.

As with much that has to do with the relationship of Black Americans and the country we helped build without compensation, Juneteenth is bittersweet. It’s indicative of how difficult the forces we battle have been and continue to be just for us to simply claim our humanity. It is also indicative of our passion for life and our resiliency. In many ways, the fight for freedom continues.

Until it is fully achieved, we will remember the ancestors who persevered under the harshest of circumstances and celebrate Juneteenth as Independence Day for all Americans.

Posted in Parenting, Social Commentary

Coming Out of Myself

“You ain’t gonna make me come outta myself!” is one of Chadwick Boseman’s lines as James Brown in the film Get On Up. I recently revisited the film and remain in awe of Boseman’s performance of course, but this time, it was that line I carried away into my week. The line, unbeknownst to me, remained perched in the forefront of my mind, and became a central reflection point for me when a personal matter arose regarding one of my children.

Now, there isn’t a whole lot that can make me “come outta myself.” The hair-trigger reactions of youth subsides with age and experience, affording one the wisdom to take a brief moment to decide if something or someone is even worth the very precious time it would cost to address. I consider this a real perk of getting older. There is a satisfying feeling that, if you could put a name to it, I suspect the name would be, “oh lord, not today.”

It’s been so many years since I’ve had the out of body experience of coming out of myself that I really didn’t think anything would come up in my life to make that happen; however, I was woefully mistaken. It’s as if I forgot, I am a mom!

As a mother of adult children, all of whom are on very different paths in life and encountering all of the rewards as well as the difficulties of the decisions they’ve made, the latter can sometimes drift into my lane and I’m called on to support and/or advise. This was the case a few days ago, when my son brought his co-parenting difficulties to my front door. He is going through a text book case of mismatched individuals dealing with the aftermath of a failed relationship.

I went into the situation that was brewing outside my door by advising my son to be flexible with the mom as that is what’s best for everyone. I reminded him that she had been flexible on occasion. To his credit, he conceded and the transition went forward. However, at the same time heated words were being exchanged, and like a virus, the words branched out into my direction, which I was not prepared for. Being caught off guard, I failed to go high and came out of myself and was directly cast into hell where the expletives pop off like corn in a sizzling pan. Woo chile!

I hadn’t realized the correlation between the scene in Get On Up until the early morning of the next day. In the scene, James Brown was confronted by his band members for lack of pay among other things. Mr. Brown said that he’d take their concerns under consideration to which the drummer jumped up and said “Fuck you!” That’s when Mr. Brown lost his composure and came up out of himself while warning them not to further provoke him.

Just to ensure clarity, the band’s complaints had merit, while the attack upon my character as well as parenting style did not. To be further clear, during the two-year long relationship, nobody in my family had the opportunity to even get to know the girl or her family and we still barely know them and are quite content to keep it that way.

Nonetheless, I had reflected on how the situation made me feel when I woke up in the middle of the night to a feeling of anxiety and disappointment in myself for not handling the matter better. I had realized that I had, in fact, come out of myself and that the feeling had continued to simmer long after everyone had left.

I whole-heartedly believe that there is always a way to handle conflicts without things rising to the level of anger and irrational thoughts but one has to be prepared. After getting these words down, I feel that I will be better prepared next time. I support all of my children when they are right, and when they are having difficulties doing the right thing, I counsel and provide solid guidance. At the end of the day, they are adults shaping their own lives, the same as I did. I have faith that the challenges will be overcome, lessons will be learned, and better days are always ahead, that’s how life goes when your heart is truly in the right place.

If you’d like to share an experience you’ve had parenting 20 somethings, I’d love to read it, so please leave it in the comments. Sharing is caring.

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/27 (10 Minutes) – Wicked Wickles

“You all think you know me!” Gildy yelled. “Well you don’t know me! You know nothing about me at all! He turned and looked each person in the room in the eye. His uncle Bertram turned away. His sister Phyllis, casted her eyes downward. The only one to hold his glare steady was Wilford, the family butler. He was the one who finally broke the silence.

Wilford cleared his throat and in the tone he’d used with Gildy from the time he was a little boy, said, “Master Gildy, you’re just tired. Let me get you some tea.”

“I don’t want any tea!” Gildy yelled.

“Tea always makes you feel better.” Wilford said while walking over to Gildy. He held his arm and guided him over to the sofa where Gildy collapsed and began to sob.

“There, there Master Gildy.” He soothed. “Those wicked Wickles will pay for what they’ve tried to do.”

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/26 (10 Minutes) The sugar scandal

As far as scandals go, Bright Johnson, 8th grader at Stacey Abrams Middle School, accomplished the greatest scandal anyone in the school could have ever imagined. This was her final year in the MESA program. MESA is where all of the smart kids and those kids whose parents dream of having smart kids come together to create scientific fetes such as prosthetic arms made from kitchen tongs and duct tape. She wanted to end her middle school career on a high note so coming in first place was a must. Her toughest competition was Audra St. Blume who lived a few houses down from Bright. They used to play together when they were in elementary school but middle school changed her. During their final friendly play date Audra said to Bright, “New school, new clothes, new me, new friends. Bye!” So Bright concocted a scheme to bring her down. It came to be known for years to come as the great sugar scandal of Stacey Abrams Middle School.

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/25 (10 Minutes): Unseasonably Salty

All of his life’s efforts came to this one moment. All of the hours alone with the light of his laptop transitioning to the light of the sun and back again. All of the sacrifices. A marriage that never stood a real chance, even though he found time, at least twice, to spend 15 minutes physically connecting. This was evident in the two children the coupling produced. Aside from DNA, there was no real connection to the children. Yet this is what his mind decided to ruminate on. How are David and Cassandra doing? The unexpected longing in his heart, an unfamiliar sensation, made him unseasonably salty considering the fact that he just hung up the phone on his agent and the news that he was now a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry.

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt 1/24 (10 Minutes): Ricocheting Rocks

“When is mama coming home Gil?” Danny asked.

Gil examined the rock he had just spotted poking out from under the log they were sitting on. “I don’t know D. Daddy said it could be a long time.”

“Do you think she’s gonna die?” Danny asked in a whisper.

“Do you think I got a crystal ball or somethin’?” Gil barked before lobbing the smooth rock with just the right wrist action, causing it to skip across the surface five times before it sank.

Ricocheting rocks is one way Gil found that steadied his mind and soothed the ache he felt in his belly when he worried about something.

“Help me find some more rocks.” Gil ordered.

Posted in Creative Writing - Fiction, Writing Prompt

Writing Prompt (10 Minutes): Certifiably Sensational

Commit yourself to an unsubstantiated notion, a conspiracy theory, as it were. Allow it to grab hold of your heart in such a way that whenever your brain receives information that attacks the logic of the notion and begins to ruminate on it, you feel the cold hand of death grip your heart as if it were a hapless stress ball. Your fight or flight instincts begin to kick in. You desperately reach for your laptop, the door to your tribe, and navigate through the halls until you reach the social media room in the darkest corner of the web. You enter, and it’s as if the occupants have been awaiting your arrival. Your fingers relay the rhetoric of which, surprisingly or not, the occupants are all too familiar. Surprisingly or not, they are armed with the medicinal response that instantly dispels the grip. You can breath now. You can, certifiably now, go out into the world and be sensational again.

Posted in Political, Social Commentary

MLK Day Reflection: Having A Change of Heart

While government sanctioned discrimination in the form of Jim Crow laws were successfully dismantled by the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. understood that legislation alone could not change the root cause of such laws, the hearts of men. In his sermon, The Goodness of the Good Samaritan, he wrote, “It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

The result of that restraint is a racial limbo that leads to the racial unrest that came to a head in 2020 as a result of the murder of George Floyd, the murder of Ahmad Arbery, and the murder of Breonna Taylor.

As we reflect on MLK Day, consider how hearts can be changed. Many hearts were changed as the world watched the light of life go out of George Floyd while an officer of the law applied the weight of his entire body on his neck. Many allies were gained as we watched Covid 19 ravage communities of color due to what was clear to Dr. King in 1966 when he addressed a group of medical professionals and said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.”

It shouldn’t take a loss of life for us all to examine our hearts to see what we could do better in order for America to live up to its promise to all of its citizens. Whether you care about the lives that have been lost or the businesses that have been impacted, we all have a stake in resolving the inequities that exist in our society. Dr. King did his part, he lost his life doing his part. On this MLK Day let’s make a pledge to do our part. Let’s examine our hearts and make individual changes that promote unity and diversity so that we all have a chance to live the promise of America.

MLK Quotes to inspire you to examine your heart.

“One day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid… You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. Well, you may go on to live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90.” ~1967 Sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~1963 “Strength of Love” a book of sermons

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” ~1967 Sermon: Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” ~1957 Speech: Conquering Self-Centeredness

Posted in Poetry

The Fractured Family

Silence holds the family in pieces.
It’s the brutality of blessings
that splinters all to avenues of frost
and the unseemly snowy wood.
When hush is broken by some tired soul,
we melt and pour ourselves into convenient sewers.
Thirsty for the ocean and thirsting for a new beginning.