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#bloglikecrazy: Day 14 – Honor Roll

It’s easy to convince yourself that they will be around forever. The truth is too ugly to face, but it’s not leaving. When it involves losing someone you love, truth’s invisibility materializes. If the loss is in the news, somehow it’s a foreign reality. But when death walks down your street, the chill is undeniable.

On Monday, November 14th, I watched the honor of others and beamed. It was a beautiful thing to behold. Smiles. Love. Respect. Humility. Priceless jewels that anyone would be proud to wear.

That night, I wondered how often people leave this world without knowing how pivotal they are to the lives they’ve touched. Not to sound sad or morbid, but why wait until a memorial to cry out words that could have saved a life? Created a blanket of joy? Soothed a scared spirit?

On a day like today, thanksgiving is in the air and it would behoove us to be grateful for each other and everything that brings. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Honor anyone you deem important and cherish the memories of those that are no longer in your life. Delaying your love expression inadvertently says that you take them for granted and that their presence does not take precedence in your life. That’s not what you want to say… repeatedly. Extend honor. Extend your voice. Extend your hand. Extend yourself. Today.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of craighollomanx.wordpress.com

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50 Shades of Fight

Businessman with boxing gloves
Businessman with boxing gloves. Courtesy of California Ticket Masters

There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice.

Without the tempered pen of Phillis Wheatley and Ida B. Wells-Barnett… the beautiful creative prowess of Katherine Dunham and Debbie Allen… the cat eyeglasses and church shoes worn by civil rights activists, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do each day. So, I started thinking… if everyone fought the same way, something would go untouched. A collection of varied punches is the only human force that can defeat an enemy of this magnitude. The slobbering rabid dog that it is.

With the crimes that have transpired in the last 2 years (shootings and bombings and murders, oh my…), I decided to challenge myself by compiling a kaleidoscope of ways that people are fighting injustice on a regular basis.  Could I do it? Could I come up with 50 persons that swing in the ring as differently as their fingerprints? Whew! What a challenge!

Though their gloves look different to the naked eye, their fight against what’s wrong in the world sends ripples through history. I made a point to also include people that you may not know, and some I didn’t know until this post.  Their work isn’t always glamourous and may be overshadowed by their fame or “Clark Kent” 9-to-5 identity, but this list is comprised of some heavyweight champions… some, I am honored to know personally. They came to the forefront of my mind and I’ve included their method of fighting as a link within their name. If someone that you admire isn’t on the list, respectfully add it in the comment section below along with a link to provide details about their fighting strategy as it wasn’t meant to be exclusive. Just a segway for conversation and inspiration.

Wouldn’t it be cool if these names were in the history books

so the future can inhale their greatness?

Thank God for alphabetical order. *smile*

  1. Al Elliott – Educator, Rapper
  2. Alicia Keys – Musician, Songwriter
  3. All Military Branches & Law Enforcement – Service
  4. Arise Citizens Policy Project – Non-Profit, Advocacy
  5. Bertram Young – Non-Profit Unit Director
  6. Bill & Melinda Gates – Philanthropists
  7. Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program – Legal Counsel
  8. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins – Entrepreneur, Poet, Activist
  9. Calvin Littlejohn – Non-Profit Regional Manager
  10. Carmelo Anthony – Olympic Athlete, Basketball
  11. Clint Smith – Educator, Researcher, Writer
  12. Clinton Green – Educator, Musician, Producer, Songwriter
  13. Debbie Allen – Actor, Author, Choreographer, Dancer, Director
  14. Denzel Washington – Actor, Director
  15. Gabby Douglas – Olympic Athlete, Gymnast
  16. Gateway Family Church Leaders – Pastors
  17. G. I. Magus – Rapper, Songwriter
  18. Griena H. K. Davis, Ph.D. – Counselor, Educator, Non-Profit, Advocate
  19. Hadiyah-Nicole Green – Educator, Physicist
  20. Hedwige “Didi” Saint-Louis, M.D., MPH – Educator, OB/GYN, Advocate
  21. Javacia H. Bowser – Educator, Writer
  22. Jay-Z – Rapper, Producer, Entrepreneur
  23. Jarvis Escott – Entrepreneur, Marketing Professional
  24. Jim & Rose McChesney – Birmingham Homeless Ministry Leaders
  25. John Hall – Restaurateur
  26. Kevin P. Turner – Educator, Pastor, Producer, Songwriter
  27. Kimberly Bryant – Technology Education Advocate
  28. Lisa Price – Entrepreneur, Hair & Body Care
  29. Magic Johnson – Athlete, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
  30. Malala Yousafzai – Non Profit, Activist
  31. Mark Bustos – Hairstylist
  32. Maya Penn – Entrepreneur
  33. Mellody Hobson – Investments Firm President
  34. Minority Owned Banks – Financial Service Providers
  35. Nadia Richardson, Ph.D. – Educator, Mental Health Advocate
  36. Patrick Packer – Advocate, Consultant, Entrepreneur
  37. Rosemary Amposah – Welder
  38. Ruby Wax – Comedian, Mental Health Advocate
  39. Serena Williams – Olympic Athlete, Tennis
  40. Shawn Wade, Ph.D. – Educator, Consultant
  41. Sherman L. Young – Author, Pastor
  42. Sherry Shine – Entrepreneur, Hair Care
  43. Shonda Rhimes – Director, Producer, Writer
  44. Steven K. Webb, Ph.D. – Educator, Investment Broker
  45. Tarra Wilson – Law Enforcement
  46. T. D. Jakes – Author, Movie Producer, Pastor
  47. T. Marie King – Community & Youth Advocate
  48. Tyler Perry – Actor, Director, Playwright, Producer
  49. Uawanna J. Day – Administrative Assistant, Sunday School Teacher
  50. Warren Buffett – Entrepreneur, Investor
  51. Will & Jada Smith – Actors, Directors, Producers, Musicians
  52. WNBA  – Athletes, Administrators

So, I thought of 52… who knew?!

10 Ways You Can Fight Too

  1. Be a youth/young adult mentor. Don’t freak them out by smothering them. Just love on them. Speak life into them. Mention their interests every now and then. Show up. Support goes a long way.
  2. Go outside and be cordial to your neighbors. You can’t criticize who you don’t know. Also, if all eyes are watching for crime, the community creates a line of defense.
  3. Learn the names of the officers that police your community. They’re people. Humans live behind that badge. All law enforcement are not bad, just like all vegetables don’t taste gross. Don’t let anything shade your perspective.
  4. Read a book. Besides reading God’s Word, I love reading various materials. It helps to maintain healthy conversation when you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Discuss a book with others. See #4. Can you imagine what this would do for us all?
  6. Be excellent in your craft. Don’t be mediocre because of a paycheck. Be the best. You being your best will make someone else’s life so much better.
  7. Excel at the small things. Little things count. Smile. Offer help. Call instead of text. Even if you’re sweeping the floor, remember the corners.
  8. Give a compliment to a stranger. Lighten up someone’s load by giving them a smile.
  9. Love the unlovable. I know they can be weird and mean. Love them anyway.
  10. Bathe yourself in goodness before you go to work. It’s a jungle out there. Be prepared before you walk in. Clothe yourself in righteousness and be ready for whatever. That’s how you don’t flip out.

I hope those names inspire you as much as they did me. Some of them do not receive nearly enough accolades and appreciation, but they fight anyway. Everyday.  Driving their best race in the passionate lane of their career path.

Click on every name. Explore them. If you can, reach out to them… honk your virtual horn and say “Hey. Thanks for fighting.” You may be just the boxer’s corner they need to keep regroup, clean up, and keep going.

Peace & Thanks for listening. *runs to ice fingers from typing*

Be Great or Go Home.

screenshot_20160628-223252_1.jpg

Before I ever thought of becoming a University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazer, I was a University of Tennessee Volunteer… well, in my mind I was.

I saw powerful images of a Warrior and knew that UT was the place where I could shine. I couldn’t play a lick of basketball, but you couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t going to meet Pat Summitt on campus while walking to class one day. Try denying it, and I would emphatically defend that fantasy until you were a believer.

The Big Orange glow lured me into the graduate school application process years later when I decided to become an educator. I applied to both UAB and Tennessee. My grandmother was sick and I decided to stay in Birmingham. My letter from Tennessee came a few days after I confirmed my graduate journey as a Blazer. Somehow, I knew it would happen that way.

wp-1467171384091.jpgNevertheless, I felt a strong connection to Knoxville because of one person. An unapologetic Shero that seemed to radiate from my TV screen each time I saw her. I could feel her fire and touch her tenacity. She was a lifter of those around her and you could see it in the eyes of her Lady Vols.  For me, “The Summit” (as I called her in my mind), was a cataclysmic collision with athletic machismo. Her hand claps sent shockwaves into decades of prejudice and discrimination toward women and her stare would make any referee, coach, or player rethink their behavior.

In light of the news of her passing, what did I learn? What did I hear before bed last night? One lesson.

You can’t argue with excellence.

In the beginning it was a factor, but later… after sowing sweat and sincerity, it didn’t matter that she was female. Her excellence superseded her gender. In the end, she understood that either you be great or you go home and come back ready to be great. That’s all you have to choose from. You do the work behind the scenes and you eliminate the opportunity for inferiority and self-doubt to halt your drive. Sure, I could go down the statistics and accolades, but I’d like to point out the less-than-shiny ones.

  1. Washing uniforms
  2. Driving the team van
  3. $250.00 per month of earnings

This is greatness. This is excellence at its finest. It starts at the bottom; it starts with service. With every perceived act of smallness, she exuded exponential positivity with a side of moxie. She was a powerhouse before anyone acknowledged that she had the juice… and she didn’t wait for them to figure it out. Her consistent investment in others yielded residual dividends.

  1. 100% graduation rate of her players
  2. First women’s coach to earn more than $1 million in a season (2008-2009 season), trailblazing a path for other women to earn competitive coaching pay
  3. Inspiring thousands of women to play like a girl and be proud of it

wp-1467171389534.jpg

The Summit” yelled. She passionately pressed her players without apology. She paced across the attic of America’s glass ceiling with her 5’11” frame and dared anyone to say she couldn’t back up every seed she had sown. Her brand was excellence, and she trusted the product she poured into others. Whether or not the sexists acknowledge her equity, she was definitely not outworked. Her determination put more wind in my feminist cape to keep flying above gender stereotypes. Now, she has gone in the same fullness in which she was came.

 

I’m grateful that she was great before she went home.

 

 

Peace & Thanks for listening.

No, thanks. I’m watching my Father-Figure…

Screenshot_2015-06-15-22-37-49_1A spoken word piece that one day I’ll have the courage to say in public. For now, this is the platform. To fathers and father-figures, I salute you today and everyday. Keep going. 👊

“Bills?
I pay them.
People?
I have to raise them?
Where are the instructions?
I don’t need them.
I’ll figure it out. Just let me see them.”

“Yes, I’m qualified.
Just give me chance.
My suit isn’t tailored.
I don’t know this dance, but
I promise I can do it.
I won’t be outworked.
I can figure it out
In my blue collar shirt.”

“How am I going to explain this when I get home?
They don’t get it. I’m really trying.
I feel alone…
Divisible
Invisible
At the same time.
Not having what you need
That’s despicable to me.
But there’s too many pieces I need to be
And I don’t know where to go
I’m trying to fix what’s broken, unspoken,
without a MANual
To help me grow.

That’s why I can’t show you
My tears and my fears.
The scars… I can’t hide.
My love for you is deep
But I can’t stretch my arms wide
Enough to help you understand
The battle I’ve learned to fight
The best way I can
Despite the tools I was given,
Living in a sardine can of lost dreams
Suffocating me with my own hands
I can’t breathe.”

“5 AM. Another day.
Gotta get out of here
Make a way
Make it happen
Scratching the surface
Until I find it.
God, I’m nervous.

I can’t cry.
I’m a man.
Men don’t complain.
They do what they can.
Family first.
Live second.
My net worth?
Please, don’t check it.”

I see you,
Invisible Man,
Walking tall in public
Encroached in spirit as you stand
Privately shaking, trying not to break open
Keep being, speaking as only you can.

Thank you. I mean it.
I know it’s your duty,
but gratitude is still in order
I appreciate you.
I’m grateful for your shoulders.

On behalf of every woman that’s ignorantly watching,
waiting for you to slip up
Lurking in lust, to trip you up
Buying your affection with the jewels between her thighs
I salute you for saying
“No, not tonight.”
For taking sons and daughters to football games and
Singing silly songs on the way to school
Worried about the gas tank not being full
Wishing that your bank account was bigger than a speck
Praying that you’ll move out of the projects
Hoping that your projects become successful
Dreaming for another way
Always helpful
Educating other folk’s kids everyday
You love them past their DNA.
You’re a survivor
Thriver
Pusher
Driver
The president of the house,
The kingdom we live in.
Your heart and passion supersede your dividends
And I thank you for the sleepless nights
Counting the costs
Catching our tears with your chest
Every time we felt lost.

Thank you. I mean it.
I know it’s your duty,
but gratitude is still in order
I appreciate your seed that
Built me to conquer
I recognize you because you look familiar
Like Jesus the Christ
My fearless Leader.

My burden bearer,
Distractions will come,
But I believe in you.
Those people? Over there?
They’re taking silent notes
Getting ready for their own test.
Only this time, without you knowing,
You’re the MANual.
You’re the model.
You’re the best.

Peace, Happy Father’s Day, & Thanks for listening. ✌

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