Jamie Mayes, AOE

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Black Men Set the Tone for How Society Treats Black Women

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Jamie20 (1 of 1).JPGTonight, I watched the McClure family discussion about some racist comments made by their father…and whew, chile! I had to breathe deeply as I watched a white male comedian discuss his racist and very stereotypical comments about black women with his black wife and biracial twin daughters. As he fumbled through his explanations, I listened intently and as openly as possible to understand what would make him say the things he said. Then, I heard his most honest answer; he was insecure, and the stage was his way to talk about it. And while the black comments section dragged him  like Linus’s blanket on Charlie Brown, I believe him. I absolutely believe that his failed attempted to date black women and their constant rejection of him toyed dangerously with his ego. I mean who else talks about not being able to get a date with a particular type of women, but still pursues them? What plagued me even more is what made him feel it was okay to make such distasteful jokes about minority women, especially women of color. I began to think about the social media crusades against black women and how society has always been unkind to us. We are always too bitter, too black, too bold, or too blatant. In my mind, I questioned why people still think it is okay to ostracize black women and use everything from our appearance to our beliefs as a joke or criticism. The answer was one that unsettled me, and made my mind run amuck- my black men.

Everything from the lyrics to “Chicken Head” to a recent random post on Instagram where a black man said black women would never be satisfied until an attractive Hollywood star dated a “Gabby Sidebe looking black female” ran through my head. “Bald head scaly-wag; ain’t got no hair in back. Gelled up weaved up..bawk, bawk! Chicken, chicken!” You know the words.  The constant proclamation of black men that they love black women…but, then date and marry everything EXCEPT black women. Black men have done a horrible job of protecting the identity and safety of black women. This is not criticism, but more of a request for our brothers to demand more respect for us. Consider this, everything from the body to the brains of a black woman has been desired by this country and around the world. One of the richest women in America makes her money by capitalizing off the appropriation of black culture and even she is protected by a black man (give or take, but you get the point). Three black women stood as the leaders of a larger group of black women who crunched numbers behind the scenes of Nasa more than fifty years ago, and we have only recently heard of them!

Justin McClure is not the first man to make crude jokes about black women. Black comedians and other stars lead the way with bashing black women for public entertainment or to hide their pain. For decades comedians have used the art of the black woman both directly and indirectly to fuel barrels of laughs from audiences. Imitations of voices and mannerisms have become regular on-line comedic acts insinuating that all black women are ghetto with attitudes and no class. Such practices have opened the gates for even white comedians to mock the black women with nappy wigs and the pop n’ roll of a neck while using urban vernacular.  The woman most responsible for shaping this world is the laughingstock of this world, and it is troubling sight.We are not society’s jester, so let’s put a stop to this shenanigan.

No more can we continue to make excuses for why black men are not doing their job. Hell, yeah, I said job. So much of the failure to protect black women is not a question of gender or race, it is a question of humanity. One should find it difficult to support the unjustifiable criticisms of a race of women who are the true founding fathers of the world. How can one mock a sector of women who gets one-third of the pay of their counterparts but have put in twice the work to help others gain success? Who would dare see the comedy is disrespecting a group of women who are the most highly educated sector in the world. They live with the most debt, but still always find a way to make ends meet. In a room full of silence, a black woman will usually stand as the voice of correction and reason, but an intercessor can scarcely be found when she is attacked for her courage. Take for instance, Mother Maxine. Following 45’s disrespectful remarks challenging her intelligence and morals, I waited for a team of black men to say that public attempts to humiliate and insult her would not be tolerated. Instead, I heard the cries of the same men who usually speak out (you know, Bakari and Roland- got to love these brothers), but the silence of even more. The irony is strong and resilient women like Mother Maxine, Angela Rye and Symone Sanders stand as the voices of black men and women but serve as the emotional whipping boys for white society. Their demands for fair treatment are often disrespected because the America has no respect for black women.

I have never been one to ride the “black people need to stick together” or “black men and women need to have each other’s’ back” train. For the most part, I believe that justice and righteous are not contingent upon unity; they are rights of every man. However, matters of humanity are a little different, because standards are and repetitive behaviors become common based leaders of a group. While there are many strong black women with the qualities of a leader, the strongest influence usually comes from a black man. Therefore, black women need our black men to change the tone of public conversations about black women to acknowledge all the wonderful things that black women have done and continue to do to shape the world. The lack of respect and support shown by black men is the reason other races feel it is okay to talk in a fake “hood” voice when speaking to a black woman, making insensitive jokes about ethnic names is for public entertainment, and making uninformed comments about hair weaves and natural hair is a common practice. Solange told folks a long time ago not to touch our hair; so, don’t joke about it either. Insulting our intelligence is permissible because society wants to continue to suggest that we are not smart enough, beautiful enough or deserving enough of freedom, liberty and respect. There are far too many black women sprinkling magic on the world for us not to be celebrated and respected.

I find it hard to locate the women who are so bickered and bantered about in music lyrics and rants on social media. Perhaps, I am looking in the wrong place. To find a chicken head one would have to search a dirty, feces-filled chicken coop. To locate a bitch, one would have to search a dog shelter or the streets. The women with whom I connect, and support are flying high like eagles, building nests among the sun and clouds. But these are not the desired women of most of our moguls, music stars and athletes. These black women have standards that are too high and dress helms that are too low. They are not attracted to flashy things like gold chains and diamond rings. They aren’t looking for the meal ticket, because they already cooked the meal, or had it catered. They, instead, ask for the intangible: love, loyal and commitment. These women deserve more from society and certainly from our brothers.

I am asking black men to please stand up and demand society to respect black women. Do not continue to encourage dialogue that denigrates us. To continue to support this type of negative commentary is to continue to allow society to rob black culture of all the things we have done. America, itself has suckled from the breast of black women to feed the white men and women who constructed ideas for the development of this country. We have birthed the black men and women who laid the brick and mortar to build and invent nearly everything in this country. We have hidden behind the scenes while others have been given glory and notoriety at our expense. We have stood quietly in the shadows while others have basked in our sunlight. And we are still here, waiting for our moment to be respected for our worth and honored for our tenacity. However, that moment will continue to be deferred until black men stand with and for us. We can no longer wait for society to do the right thing; we must demonstrate the right thing before society and demand that they follow suit. Black men, you set the tone for how society treats black women. Make sure that she is treated with dignity and respect. Justin McClure and his family had an important conversation, but it is one that will have to take place less often if more black men set the tone for how society is expected to treat black women.


Super Woke, but Don’t Sleep on Black Panther

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 27, 2018 at 3:58 pm

I am all for black empowerment, and I truly believe that systemic racism, institutional racism, subtle racism and oppression and cultural bias exist. Just like so many others, I said down with Dove, H & M and Pepsi…but there is time when people go too far. Last week, Black Panther, one of the most successful movies in history, was released and black pride was at an all-time high. There were dashikis, royal African wear and natural hair everywhere! It was a beautiful site. I did not spare jamin my appearance, rocking a combination of black and all the tigers of Africa including a lion necklace on my neck; I even posed in the lobby with my power-to-the-people first and black animal print glasses. I found myself sobbing with prideful emotion and chiming in ad-libs while I watched Black Panther in 3D. Black Panther was for black folks what Star Wars is to white people- an iconic experience.

Even though Black Panther was a beautiful, cinematic masterpiece with creative artistic ability, subliminal and blatant cultural and political messages and a nearly all-black cast, there were still some complainers. I was not surprised; as a matter of a fact, I waited patiently to see what the Super Woke committee would release as a rebuttal to a movie that is taking the world by storm. It took them a few days to search long and hard for a criticism, but they dug into the crack of nowhere and found some. There were comments like, “This movie still produced by Disney; so, black people are still funneling their money into a white company.”  Others claimed black folks deserved a movie realer and truer than Black Panther, which sucked because I thought it portrayed so much of the truth about the talent, skills and hidden gifts of black people and Africa.  It was at this moment that I realized some people will never be satisfied. They immerse themselves in complaining; they search for an opportunity to appear deeper than they are, and pledge head first into foolishness. However, this is what is so problematic with the super woke: they are just as much of an enemy to black culture as those who are truly guilty of racism and prejudice. Do not clutch your chest; it is alright to breathe. Let me take a moment to explain why.

  1. You often appear illogical and unwilling to learn.

One of the most serious problems with the super woke community is their unwillingness to learn and reach outside of their comfort zone. Change and progress are uncomfortable experiences for all of us. They often require serious self-evaluation and demand that we assess the role we play in moving a mission forward or causing it to regress. For the Super Woke, this means one must accept that their constant criticism is not an attempt to move race-relations forward; it is a shove backwards for mankind. Though man would like to think that separation of races is a good idea, we must remember that every existent object or being functions better when all parts work together. In all honestly, a racially balanced utopia is highly unlikely, but we must be willing to learn more about other races and cultures and to consider, with logic, ways to build a functional relationship with people who do not look, think or believe like us.

  1. You create problems instead of solving them.

The Super Woke appears to hate diversity. They crave the opportunity to identify an area lacking black justice and seek to complain about unending oppression when they are oppressing the spirit of those who seek to emulate that which they desire. The Super Woke believe that those who are open to discussions on race and culture with other groups are weak and wasting their time. They find fault in the system, but seek to criticize the system not correct the system. My super woke sisters and brothers, these behaviors offer no solution, but instead amplify the problem. Furthermore, it personally causes you distress by taking the never-ending approach to race as the bottom line every problem in America. These people often isolate themselves in the workplace or limit their own success by opting to only participate in business with those who look like and think like them. While race plays a significant role in the most dominant problems in America, it is only by consciously contradicting the predictable American culture can you prove to be the solution. By contributing to the idea that every part of one’s existence is lined with racial contexts, you continue to add to and create more problems.

  1. You get no sleep…and that makes you cranky.

Though this seems like the smallest reason, it is the most important one: being Super Woke is exhausting. Though we live in a braggadocios era where everyone celebrates “team no sleep” and the belief that one will “sleep when I’m dead,” such is not idealistic and is actually detrimental to productivity. Living the life of the Super Woke can also have the same affects.  Constantly focusing on only one portion of a picture or from an assumptive or one-dimensional view becomes repetitive and pointless. Look, Super Wokes, give it a rest sometimes. Yes, it is okay to go see a movie where the main star is white.  You are not betraying your people if you sometimes get a pedicure from the Asian ladies because they give the best foot rub. You can, in fact, celebrate Kwanzaa and Christmas.  And no, you don’t have to live in an all-black society to understand black issues, advocate for black culture and have black pride. Quite often, it is in the midst of the unfamiliar that one can make the most impact.

Being woke does not mean one can no longer see the value of what our counterparts offer society; no, does not it mean we have to reject diversity y or forsake racial unity. Being woke means we recognize the flaws in society, the tendency of others to ignore real problems and the pervasive injustices black people face. Not only do woke people recognize these issues, but they identify those issues publicly and address how to amend them with parties from all cultures, races and ethnicities. Woke also means conscious and conscious means that one also aware of their own actions and the actions of society. To my Super Woke folks, slow it down. The truth is that racial issues dominate American society and we are currently facing problems that many though were eliminated fifty years ago. However, we have also made important strides in society. Many of these strides were possible because the mentality of so many has changed and new generations of leaders and citizens have forced America to evolve. While there is so much work to be done, please remember that the quality of work must supersede the quantity of work. Let us not spend so much time being a Super Woke advocate that we fail to act out the changes we deem a necessary part of society,  we reject new ideas and growth or we do not re-charge our bodies and spirits to continue such an important mission. Let us not be so woke, that we sleep on important opportunities to contribute to our fellow mankind, elevate our own brothers and sisters or to make important societal impacts for the culture.

Don’t Let a Bell Pepper Block Your Blessing

In Culture, life, media, News, reality, religion, Uncategorized on December 26, 2017 at 6:44 am

A few nights ago, I was in Wal-Mart Market purchasing a few items for my Christmas buggy. I had gathers a plethora of things and made my way to the self-check-out due to the long lines in the few open cashier lanes. As I rung up my never-ending basket of items, I watched the numbers increase from cents to dollars instantly. At the end my total was just over $150. I begrudgingly reached into my wallet and pulled out my debit card, which had already seen its share of swipes and purchases throughout the day. I grabbed my receipt and headed for the exit, hoping that I had forgotten nothing on the extra long list. When I got to my car, I loaded my son into his car seat, and then popped the trunk to load the grocery. I had loaded what seemed like far too few bags for such a large total when I reached to get one more bag. I suddenly noticed a plastic bag stick out from between my beautiful poinsettias, which I had scores for only three bucks a piece. Just as I grabbed the second one, I realized I had accidentally missed scanning a bell pepper that was tucked between two poinsettias. I signed heavily. I looked at the door, my trunk and then the bell pepper. I thought to myself, “I just spent $150, I am not going back in for an 89-cent bell pepper. I mean, I can really just keep this little pepper; it’s not big deal.” However, I looked at the bell pepper once more, and I could not convince myself to toss it into my trunk. I could already hear my mom in the back of my head waving her finger and telling me I should have taken it back even if it costs ten cents. I looked at the bags and my son once more; I was simply not up for unloading a toddler and going back into the store for this bell pepper. I asked myself, Do I really want to block my blessing because of a bell pepper?

This is the situation so many of us often face. We are presented with bell peppers that seem like they won’t cost us much, but that’s exactly the problem. Something that is worth so little can cost us so much if we lose focus. I am sure, so many are like me; you have some 89 cent bell peppers in your life. Situations or people who test and tempt your morals and character; you have contemplated letting them “have it” or catching them after work. However, I urge you to look at the bigger picture and ask yourself if these situations or people are worth your dignity, self-respect, public image or Christian relationship. Undoubtedly, they are not. Therefore, take that bell pepper and return it to where it came from; place it among those who are just like it, and keep going.  I know that can be much easier said that done, but I urge you to…just…keep…going. Bell pepper people and situations can seem so small, but they can cost us so much. That was the problem with the bell pepper between the poinsettias; it seemed easy and convenient to follow my mood and just toss it into the trunk, so I could get home. However, in the end, it would have still been stealing, which is not pleasing in the sight of God. I was certainly not willing to trade my dignity and self-respect for a bell pepper. Some would declare that no one would have noticed or even cared about the missing bell pepper, but that’s the art of not letting it block my blessing. Why should I be wiling to put a blemish on relationship with God or a stain on my self-respect for something no one would even notice? Yet, I would have to pay a price, and the bell pepper wasn’t worth itistock_photo_of_bell_peppers.

I looked at the door of the store once more and made a swift decision. I hopped into my car, pulled up as close as possible to the front door (no, literally, on the store side walk, up to the front door), looked for an employee coming in and out of the store, turned on the emergency lights, cracked the window, locked the door, jumped of the car, ran about five feet to the door where an employee was standing, told her I accidentally left a pepper in my buggy and ran back out. Whew! It took me less than ten seconds to do what I knew was right. I was not a bell pepper thief, and most importantly, I wasn’t going to let an 89-cent bell pepper block my blessing. Don’t let one block yours either.

Melanin Magic: A Tribute to Beauty & Power

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm

Sun kissed goddess

Melanin glistening in the sunlightsamjah

Oh, what a wonder you are

To the eyes that behold your radiant beauty

Exquisite you are

Astonished are we

For the intrigue of your powers is inexplicable


Sister, how do you shine so brightly

When your light’s within?

How do you speak to our souls

Without saying a word?

How do you paint the perfect picture

Without the stroke of a brush?


You are magical, sister.

Haven’t you heard what melanin-blessed goddesses do?

The way we trade our beauty for someone else’s ashes

and still end with beauty every time

The way we make the biggest moves in the tightest spaces

The way we make something out of nothing

and nothing out of something

Even our imperfections are perfectly created.


Sister, how can you heal a man’s broken heart

with a simple smile?

How do you always find the silver lining

even if the cloud is blackish-gray?

How do you receive the least

but still do the most?


You are magical, sister.

Haven’t you heard what melanin-blessed goddesses do?

Aint no abracadabra in this.

No one can voodoo mix this.

There’s no scientific explanation to this.

It’s just who we are

And what we do.


Sister, how are you the strongest woman on earth

But never bench pressed or squatted ?

How do you bring light into a darkroom

with no windows or light bulbs?

How do you raise a nation but

Only give birth to one child?


You are magical, sister.

Haven’t you heard what melanin-blessed goddesses do?

We live.

We thrive.

We give life…

To everything around us.

Black girl, didn’t you know

You have magic?


Sun kissed goddess

Melanin glistening in the sunlight

Oh, what a wonder you are

To the eyes that behold your radiant beauty

Exquisite you are

Intrigued are we

For the enchantment of your powers is enigmatic.


Live at 35: Living My Best Life

In Culture, life, reality, Uncategorized on November 8, 2017 at 5:12 am

photoshootToday I turn 35 and I am ecstatic about life. I mean I am seriously feeling myself; so much so that marigold was my color of the week this week because it matches the topaz, which is my November birthstone.  I know I’m doing a bit much, but don’t judge me. Let me be great. No, my life is not perfect. As a matter of a fact, year 34 was a hell of a roller coaster ride that I didn’t ask to be on, but something started burning in my heart a few months ago. My passion was ignited, my confidence began soaring and I had a new perspective on this life. The struggles of year 34 played an instrumental role in forcing me to reassess the value of my time and the energy I was giving myself, my son and others I love. As year 35 neared, I found myself more comfortable in my skin and flaws than I’d ever been. However, I was uncomfortable with people and situations that only brought stress and unhappiness to me. So, I did it. I started cutting and trimming away like my life was one big Christmas tree in the living room during the holiday season. In doing so, I learned three very important things about myself that sum up why I am committed to living my best life at 35.

Life Ain’t No Fairy Tale, So Keep It Real with Yourself

For years I suffered as my own critic. I had a perfectly laid out plan that I was going to follow no matter what or who came along. For years, I struggled to stick to the plan, so much so that I was often stressed and disappointed with myself when it seemed I was not meeting my own demands. I finally realized I was much harder on myself than most people were and those who were critics of my flaws, mistakes or real-life moments were not my friends.

The truth is life ain’t no fairy-tale. In the words of Andre 3000, “We can plan a pretty picnic, but we can’t predict the weather.” So many times, I had predicted sunshine with no clouds and clear crystal-blue skies, when tornadoes and thunderstorms were headed my way. After spending most of my younger years trying to control the uncontrollable, I realized if I didn’t change something about my life stress would probably kill me. I convinced myself that I needed to work more, become even more social and be available to everyone anytime they needed anything. In my mind, being everything would give me everything. Believe in yourself and your fairy tale will begin to live in you. A perfect life. Plenty of money. Great friends. The love of your life. You will have it all, I told myself. It sounded good and all the motivational books were bragging about this type of stuff. Life coaches were even holding conferences and prayer breakfasts, so I faked it until I realized a fairy tale is really a lie.

Life is real. Imperfection is reality, and embracing reality gives life to the truth. Two years ago, I decided that I was no longer chasing the fairy tale, because it seemed to be further in the distance each day. I decided to relax for a change and to live. I began committing myself to things I loved to do, no longer obligating myself to others. I cooked four times a week, painted rooms in my house, planted and cultivated a garden, wore less layers of make-up and more layers of clothes, and meditated as much as I could. It was true. My fairy tale was inside of me, begging me to be real with myself and to love myself first. My conscience effort to love self first, gave life to all my dreams and passions, and I didn’t have to chase a fairy tale. The unlimited possibilities of my reality came and continue to come to me.

Regain, Protect, Create Your Peace and Happiness

This is the most personal lesson for me and the one that has changed and sustained my joy the most. Year thirty-four was like driving up a rocky mountain with no four-wheel drive and occasion ice storms. It was tough. Though my professional career was thriving, and I felt more in touch with my career as a writer and speaker, I was facing constant battles in my personal life that overshadowed my blessings quite often. The more I fought against allowing my opposition to affect me publicly, the harder I struggled to cope privately. Eventually, I made the decision that I could no longer let miserable people try to bring me into their unhappy energy. No matter how many right decisions I made, I could not control their response. However, I could control mine and how much access they had to my emotions and energy.

I was done with sleepless nights, frustration, cursing, worrying, and feeling anxious. After hearing Senator Maxine Waters famously state, “I’m reclaiming my time!” I knew I had to reclaim my time and my peace for the sake of my family. In my reclamation, I struggled. My decision would and did cost me relationships with people, but it restored the peace and happiness my family, friends and I deserved. For years, I paid the price of peace to appease others, but in the end, “the rent was too damned high.”

Pause to Celebrate

At thirty-five, I have missed so many opportunities celebrate. While I am the queen of mini-gatherings, cook-ins, lunch meet-ups and I always have the wine, it is usually to celebrate others. It is hardly ever to celebrate myself. Perhaps, this is because I have always lived with the assumption that my achievements are an obligation, not an option, to live the lifestyle I desire. I usually undervalue my own achievements while acknowledging the strides made by others. I am not alone in this habit, which is why it is essential to identify these rationalizations. A few weeks ago, I reflected on my life and remembered the days of perming and twisting hair in the projects, cleaning houses for a few pennies, struggling with a job and a college career, and nearly being evicted. I am now a home-owner, 10-year educator with an expertise in writing and testing preparation, a five-time published author, traveling speaker, student pursing a third degree and a single, but thriving parent of a vibrant three-year old.  Anger, depression and frustration once rested on my shoulders like a winter coat, but now I wear joy, peace and happiness like a royal crown. I popped my collar and smiled in the mirror; you haven’t done too poorly sister! So, why haven’t you celebrated more? I asked myself. Celebration does not always mean a formal gathering. Celebrating involves living life and enjoying the experiences I have worked so hard to afford. For many years, I have enslaved myself to work, finding work, promoting work and doing work. Truthfully, working is good, because a man does not eat if he does not work. Work without faith is dead, but at some point, I must eat what I work for and exercise the faith I’ve given so much life to! So, this year and years to follow are committed to celebrating this life, my challenging work, and my passion. Don’t worry- you are invited to celebrate, too! Let’s take a trip or drink a glass of wine on a Tuesday or bungee jump…okay, too far? Let’s go on a bike trail ride, then! We get one life and what a shame to waste it by not celebrating our special achievements and moments. I’m pouring glass of champagne in honor of this post right now! Hold up. *Sips.*

Let me conclude by saying this: every year of this life is a blessing. Be thankful even during the rough years. Let that year be a moment of reflection and an opportunity for growth. Trust that God lets you see another year because He has greater things for you in that year! Do not let age define you; you define your age! My 35 isn’t your 35, and your 35 isn’t mine. Still, it doesn’t make yours any less than mine or mine any less than yours. Stop stressing over fairy tales, protect your peace and be sure to celebrate. Honey, I am live at 35 and I am living my best life!

Motherhood & Gardening: For Mother’s Day

In Culture, life, motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized on May 13, 2017 at 3:35 am


easterA seed was planted

I nurtured it

Started off nervously

Unsure of the process

Worried about the results

Hoping I was doing everything the right way


Plenty of water

Plenty of sunlight

Plenty of love

Plenty of time

Plenty of faith

Plenty of patience


I prune you continuously

Cutting back the excess

Cultivating your roots

For full, bountiful, abundant

Stems that reach far out and up to the sky

And bask in the sunlight


The pure joy of seeing my seed blossom

Of seeing the fruit of my harvest

The blessing to share you with others

Who are so happy to see you grow

Who pluck not your fruit

And break not your stems


What a wonder you are

Bringing beauty to my life

Giving me joy once undiscovered

Good for my heart and my soul

Before my very eyes you grow

Fruitfully, wonderfully, perfectly made


©Copyright 2017 by Jamie Mayes

My Ancestors’ Garden

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2017 at 6:27 am

This year I made the decision to take my garden from a pot to a yard gardening experience. For the past few days, I have been spending the evenings working vigorously to remove eight deep-rooted tree stumps with deep roots in front of my house. Yes, this is an odd place to plant vegetables, but I think it will be a beautiful little spot of color right next to the front door. Besides, my backyard boasts three large trees that limit sunlight, so the front yard is the best place. It seems strange, but I trust that it will be a beautiful site in a few weeks. I had imagined the root-digging to be a difficult task, so much so that I had initially asked a man with a small excavator to remove the roots. Yet, a year later the roots were still bulging from the ground and I needed to prepare my area. The rain had softened the ground and I knew the soggy soil would be much easier to navigate, so I took advantage of it. The mud was easy to dig and sling around, but the roots proved to be just as challenging as I suspected. I had determination, though, so I fought through one root at a time, using the tip of my shovel to break and smash through roots.

After attacking the second root and about thirty minutes into my project, a surge of pain began moving through my back. I struggled to bend over, but I was determined not to let pain stop my progress. I continued to try to break the roots, using my hand from time to time to pull chunks of dirt, grass and roots up. After a few minutes longer, I needed a break. I went to the trunk of my car, got a bottle of water and leaned on the hood. I guzzled it down like the chilly afternoon was a scorching hot summer day. I looked at my project in dismay; my progress was small in comparison to what seemed like a lot of work and effort put into the project.

How did they do it? I thought to myself. How could my ancestors have possibly tilled, dug, shoveled and planted hundreds of acres by hand whether it was hot, cold, rainy or snowing outside. I had been at my task for a little less than an hour and my body was already in excruciating pain. My ancestors, on the other hand, worked at least twelve and up to twenty hours per day during harvesting season. This was hard, back-breaking work for which I cannot imagine fair compensation. And my ancestors had done this for free for hundreds of years on plantations across the world.

I stared at the ground again and anger and disappointment ran through me. How could America not celebrate the culture and honor the people who not only fed the people of this land, but built this country brick by brick? How dare this country reduce our more than 400 years of American history to three pages in a textbook! It is difficult imagine how Black History is not truly seen and respected as American History. Look what they had endured for the sake of this country! As pain continued to flow my body, so did anger. I could see images of black women with newborns strapped to their backs tilling and planting endless acres of land. I could see the sun beaming on the lash-beaten backs of old black men who were stooped over picking cotton with huge burlap bags dragging behind. I could see them on a tattered porch eating biscuits and pig’s feet with greens from a dog’s pan. Scenario after scenario played in my mind; all I could think about was how hard it must’ve been for my ancestors to just survive. But they did.

There had to be something greater that pushed them each day, because this type of body-deteriorating work was enough to make any man succumb to natural death. They didn’t just survive slavery; they survived being beaten, being fed scraps of food, being berated, belittled, raped and help captive. They survived hell, still believing that better days were ahead. Though they had nothing, they did not give up.  It stirred my spirit to imagine my ancestors who were born into slavery, lived in slavery, and died still in slavery; yet, America still holds tBackyard Vegetable Garden Design Plansheir stories captive. They won’t let our tongues tell the world of the burdens black people bore for this country. They deny us the privilege of a history that is respected like the Holocaust and held with high regard like the words of the U.S. Constitution.

However, after this experience, I am even more determined to not be quiet. I will study every book, I will listen to every story, and I will teach every child about the real American History. I will teach my son that he is blessed to be black and that survival comes to him naturally because it is a part of the black American bloodline. Lastly, I will till this garden with no complaints, and I will use its harvest to nourish my family and friend’s bodies. I will make no complaints about the work, for what I do by choice each day, my ancestor did for centuries with no options. I have accepted that America will never respect my ancestor’s story, which is exactly why I always will.

What My Toddler Taught Me about Love and Reciprocity

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2017 at 6:58 am

A few weeks ago, Lee3 and I arrived home after I had spent the day on the highway, and he had spent the day with his grandmother. It had been a tough few weeks for both of us. He was battling the misery of strep throat. I was trying to maintain work and travel while fretting over whether I made the right decision to go on my television interview while my son was still ill. My sleep was deprived, my body was teetering on exhaustion, and this night was no different from others. While I tried to pretend that work and woes were not getting the best of me, it seemed that my son could still tell his mama was tired. I dragged our things from the car, sat them on the floor in the living room, and then came to my bedroom. My son followed, saying very little as his little steps alternated with mine on the tile throughout the house. I sat on the side of the bed and reached for him. He came over to give me a hug and then got down from my lap, went to my small night stand, got my pajamas, laid them on the bed and said “There, Mama.”

“Aw, thank you baby,” I said and leaned down to kiss his cheek.

I sat a few moments longer trying to decide what our next steps would be and how take care of the night’s tasks as quickly as possible. On the night stand next to the bed were the small nail clippers I had used to trim his fingers and toes the night before. Lee3 reached for the clippers and examined them for a minute. I started to grab them from him, but decided there was no harm in letting him play for a minute. Besides, they were closed and I was sure he could not do anything with them. However, his little chubby fingers knew exactly how to open the clippers. I was intrigued, so I watched him. He grabbed my feet and started trying to clip my toe nails, as he had seen me do his so many times. I watched for a minute and then started laughing as his little fingers tickled the base of my feet. After a few minutes, I told him thank you and took the clippers away. He smiled and leaned in for some sugar. (A kiss.)

As I lay in bed later that night, I replayed that sweet moment in my head. My baby wanted to help his mama just as she helps him. He has watched my actions so closely that he knew I was sleepy, so I needed my pajamas. He saw the clippers and remembered that I had clipped his nails, so he wanted to do the same for me. My smile and kiss were the only approval he desired. My toddler son’s genuine act taught me a quick lesson about love and reciprocity.

So often, we spend our time and energy doing for and giving to others who do not give the same to us. We give our best because we love them, not because we expect anything in return. Yet, when we get nothing in return from those we love, we become frustrated and disappointed, questioning their love and loyalty. However, there comes a time when we must verbalize our expectations and require reciprocity. I thought about how young my son is, and how his desire was to do for me what I have done for him. He has seen the things I do for him, and as often as possible, he tries to do these same things for me- carry bags, help with dishes, help take out the trash, anything! If my two-year old can understand the art of giving and receiving, I had to ask myself why I often allow people to get away with not returning the same love I show them. Reciprocity does not mean that one is expecting others to give more than what is given to them; it is the expectation to at least give the same. This accounts for friendships, family-ships and romantic relationships.

This is not to imply that we should not invest in or bless others with no expectations. This is to suggest that we are to expect qualities like loyalty, commitment, honesty, truthfulness and sisterhood to be a two-way street, not a dead-end road. Therefore, when we seek to build relationships, we should seek relationships that require individuals to give and take, not give and give or take and take. In the end, the expectation of love and reciprocity is not about just about holding the ones we love accountable; it is also about maintaining self-balance through the reciprocal cycle of love. To remain emotionally and mentally healthy, we must always replenish what we put out with what we take in.

Yes, what seemed like a simple moment of sweetness between mother and son, became a deep moment of reflection, and subsequently, an opportunity to grow. I gave my son my love and he showed me his appreciation through reciprocity. If a two-year old gets it, can’t we get it, too?

2016: Donald Trump Taught Me

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2016 at 5:49 pm

For the past six weeks, I have been trying to find at least one positive thing to say about Donald Trump being elected as our new President. I have searched “high and low.” I looked under my couch, on top of the refrigerator, on the roof of my house, from the roof of my house, down the highway, up the street, in the church, in the club, and even between the sofa cushions. You can always find things in the sofa cushions. Still, I could find nothing good to say.

He has already began living up to the things he preached about in this election. He uses Twitter-fingers to discuss political plans and pick fights. He has “settled” several court cases out of court and is not being pursued for anything, though at least one of his cases indicates there is reasonable cause for a trial. He appointed black medical doctor Ben Carson to be over federal housing on the premise that Ben Carson grew up in the hood. It still baffles me that Ben Carson would accept such a position despite admitting that he has no idea how to run this program. I see a token, and it is not from Chuckie-Cheese. The list of Trump’s calamities both past and present go on and on. For a while, it has been overwhelming to even discuss the never-ending, just-beginning saga of Donald Trump.

Tonight, though, I was preparing for bed and thinking about what I wanted to write as my final post of 2016. I didn’t want to write a general summary. I didn’t want to be typical with a list of the ways I have changed or a list of things I’ve have learned. I wanted something different- something that really challenged me. Instantly, my mind rolled back to the election and my concerns as we enter a new year post-Obama administration. A tear welled in the corner of my eye, and for a minute, sadness overcame me. I snapped out of it; I must get over my devastation and accept the truth. We will have a new president and that president’s name will be Donald John Trump. Sadness again. He will be our new President, and we can do this! We can make it! At some point America was great, and he will make it great again! Sadness. Grabs a Kleenex. Pours a glass of wine. Adds a shot of tequila.  I can do this.

I tried to evaluate the political scandal- I mean the political technique and strategy- used by our President elect. I could find no real strategy, but I did find a few more things. Tax audits every year for twenty years. A tax return that has still never been submitted. Declarations that he can “grab women by the p***y.” Bragging about “banging” his daughter if she wasn’t his daughter. Law suits for racial discrimination. Law suits for a fraudulent school. Multiple bankruptcies. Multiple children with multiple women. Where does the list end? Where does the list begin?

So what does all of this mean to you? Well, one very important thing that can change your life for the rest of your life! Are you ready? YOUR PAST DOESN’T MATTER! No one is better proof of this than our President elect. If you made a mistake ten years ago; forgive yourself. It doesn’t matter. If you made a mistake yesterday, forgive yourself. It doesn’t matter! If many of the U.S. citizens are willing to put the fate of our country in the hands of a man with a Santa Claus list of faults, scandals, and crimes, then you deserve to let the burdens of your past go and move forward! I mean, he is the President of the United States! You just want to start a business or write a book or mend the ties with your family or finish school! Well, look at Donald Trump and then look in the mirror. Trump. Mirror. Trump. Mirror. Now, go for it! Trust me, you haven’t done so badly. If America can forgive Trump, and he can confidently look at himself in the mirror every day, then you can do it, too! Let go of your mistakes and people who disappointed you. Let go of your past- no matter how shady or unforgiving it may seem to you. Develop a clean and genuine heart with true ambition. Find what you what to do or change and go for it! Every day you wake up is your chance to be great. Don’t let your past keep you from your calling or destiny. One more time. Look at Donald Trump. Look in the mirror. Look at Donald Trump. Look in the mirror. Trump. Mirror. Trump. Mirror. Now, remember, YOUR PAST DOESN’T MATTER!

Go for your heart’s desires in 2017!

Life in the 30’s Lane

In Culture, life, media, reality, Uncategorized on December 6, 2016 at 5:25 am

It was just a few years ago that I was terrified of my 30th birthday. A laundry list of things I felt I had not accomplished loomed over my head and I looked at the encroaching new era with hesitation and fear. It took a traveling summer, a collection of poems and a few teary-eyed break downs to prepare me to f embrace and feel comfortable with turning 30. Though I was finally able to look to the future with anticipation, nothing could have prepared me for what waited on the other side of my 29th birthday. This year, I joyfully reflect on the lessons I have learned since entering the early years of my 30’s:

  1. Life is what you make of it, not what it makes of you.

For many years, I questioned many of the experiences I had, unable to understand their relevance to my life. Yet, this past year has enlightened me in a different way. Every single experience, good or bad, short term or long term, has played a significant role in developing me into the person I am today.  Some experiences have changed the way  I view myself. Other experience has affected the way I view others. One of the most important changes was the way I view my mother and the journey that brought us closer.

The truth is that many people experience the unplanned, unfair and incomprehensible, but so many people have chosen to let life make them grand instead of letting something grand make their life. When we allow factors to control our life we only know happiness based on circumstance, but we when chose to let to control of our life we know pure joy. The best decision I ever made was to make something of this life and not to let this life make something of me.

  1. Choose obedience and everything else will fall into place.

In 2014, I made plans to move. Correction. In 2014, I made moves to move. I had a job offer, friends ready to embrace my son and me, and all the right means to make things happen.  I felt stagnant in Monroe, and I had had more than enough of the “love and energy” I  felt the town was giving me. I missed Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge always shown love to me. Then, one Sunday, I showed up at a church to share a message. I was asked to speak about Ruth and Proverbs 31. It was a teaching and learning experience that opened my spiritual senses and emotions. I broke Ruth and Proverbs 31 down so intellectually that the preacher said she didn’t think she needed a sermon anymore. Yet, before I could leave the church doors, the guest preacher would pray and have a few words.  I had never met her before and I have not seen her since, even though she lives somewhere in my town. She gave me instructions, with the most vital part being to stay in Monroe. I cried…miserably. I’m talking snot slinging, can’t breathe crying. She kept talking, reaching deep into my life, and I had no doubt God had sent her to detour my escape plan. I was crushed.

Yet, obedience has been worth the sacrifice. Many days are rough and I question God from time to time; still, I remember that obedience has yielded more blessings than I can count. He continues to blow my mind and exceed my expectation. I bow my head and remember that He gives me strength and favor and fights all my battles.

  1. I have no shame in proclaiming how much I love God.

God is not always the most popular name in the room. Atheism and agnosticism have become more and more popular. Holidays have modified from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays and Easter has become more about eggs than the resurrection. Yet, in times when God has become increasingly unpopular, I find myself more and more excited to declare how good God is to me. There was a time when I felt uncomfortable if I didn’t know the level of God-love in the crowd. However, my as I entered my 30’s my God sensor went bananas and I have not been able to stop telling the world how good it is to know and experience a relationship with God. The peace and love of God is so valuable that no one can afford it, but He so graciously gives it away become He loves us. My goal is not to preach or to convert, but to show others that the joy I feel illuminates because I know how good God has been.

  1. Not everything and everybody need a response.

This has been a long, agonizing lesson. When I think back to my years as a young, college student who felt obligated to verbally make my feelings known, I have come such a long way. My mouth was a shotgun and I was aiming to kill. I was ruthless and I had no mercy when people hurt my feelings, betrayed my friendship or mistook my kindness for foolishness. Yet, growth and aging have taught me that not everything and everybody need a response- no matter how badly they want one from me. As tempting as it is to “put people in their place”, I had to learn how to speak when I need to and let God deal with the rest. It’s not easy- trust me, it ain’t easy. My tongue and pen are tools by which I function in this life. However, I have committed myself to growing and improving on a daily basis. That meant when I recognized how lethal my tongue was, I could no longer purposely use it to harm others even when they have used their tongue and actions to harm me. There are still some moments and situations where I dig into my vocabulary and inner being to issue a swift lashing; however, it is my last resort and one I feel no need to defend when I do. However, my goal is for God to continue to give me the strength to remember that all things are resolved in due season, good things come to those who wait, and individuals shall reap what they sow.

  1. Being “woke” is a constant state of evolving; not a specific period of life.

I don’t remember a point of my life when I was not taught about Black History. My mother taught it to me like the school system teaches Math, English, and oh yeah, History. One of the first books she ever bought me was an elementary version of the biography of Dr. King. She didn’t just tell me he marched, she taught me about his life, his wife and his speeches. She, along with many of my black teachers, went on to teach me about Brown vs. the Board of Education and host essay contests to allow me to express my black pride. By the time I got to middle and high school, I had begun studying my history and culture independently, submerging myself in the facts that school history books would never teach me. By the time I graduated from high school, I had written and directed my first Black History play in a community that was over 60% white and only 30% black.

Needless to say, being “woke” (or conscious as they used to say back in the day) has never been a problem for me. Understanding why it has taken so long for so many people to embrace their blackness, learn their history and become vocal has been a frustrating to me. Yet, I am glad to see that the awakening has arrived, but hurt to see how horrible things had to be for action to be imminent. The movement has reiterated for me what I have always believed so passionately, being “woke” is a part of life for black people. Not only must we be “woke,” we must be vocal, active, persistent and insistent. We must look racism and racial injustice in the face and call it as it, no matter the setting or audience. Racial injustice takes no break and neither can I.

  1. This is my life…

And this is such a simple phrase with so many meanings. It took years for me to realize that I am not living this life for anyone except myself. I am not obligated to accept what I do not approve. I am not to be held accountable for what I cannot control. I am not to criticize myself for being human and passionate. I am entitled to feel, to think, to react and to be.

Understanding the true essence of this phrase revolutionized who I spent time with and who I allowed to borrow my time. It changed the number of chances I gave people to betray or disappoint me, and revolutionized my expectations for myself. I work hard, pray hard and try to live the right way. I get one life and it is mine. I must live it on my terms and do what makes me joyful and happy.


I am 34 and loving it! I have learned so much about putting my energy and time in the right direction, and eliminating anything or anyone that aims to interrupt my peace flow. I am smiling while typing this. It’s a heck of a feeling. I feel better than India Arie when she said “I am not my hair” and “Because I am a queen.” You get the point. My 30’s were once so greatly fear, now they are so wonderfully revered.

%d bloggers like this: