From the Archives: Sandcastles

From the Archives: Sandcastles

I published this on 6/6/2007.  Hope it speaks to someone today.

“All the things I had toiled for… I must leave… to the one who comes after me.” Ecclesiastes 2:18 NIV

Max Lucado writes: “A little boy is on the beach. He packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bright red bucket. Then he upends the bucket, and a sandcastle is created.

“A man is in the office. He shoves papers into stacks and delegates assignments. Numbers are juggled, contracts are signed, and a profit is made.

“Two builders–two castles. They see nothing and make something. And for both the tide will rise, and the end will come. Yet that’s where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as dusk approaches. As the waves near, the wise child begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker finally crashes upon his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father’s hand and goes home. The grown-up, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on his castle, he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument he protected. He blocks the waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering, he scowls at the incoming tide. ‘It’s my castle,’ he defies. The ocean need not resond. Both know to whom the sand belongs… and I don’t know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take–applaud. Salute the process of life, then take your Father’s hand and go home.”

What He said to me:
1. It’s so funny how the Lord speaks to me sometimes. I would have thought he would use something like this to talk about my goals and career dreams, but for me, it was all about my dreams of having my own family one day. Crazy, huh? One thing I do when I’ve experienced pain is close myself off for long periods of time, scared to try again. But oh my, I can’t do that. I have to go ahead and build relationships with the people (men and women) the Lord puts in my path, and I have to be ready for tide. And if a tide comes, I need to appreciate all the good times and the lessons learned and let go and say bye. There’s always a war going on inside me as far as relationships go. I KNOW the Lord puts people in my path sometimes to teach me something in particular and sometimes I’m supposed to teach them something or get them through or lead them to some situation. But that doesn’t mean I like it that way. I’m such an extreme person, and I don’t know (it’s something I pray about) if that’s something I need to work on not being. When I think something–a relationship, a project, whatever–is worth it, I throw myself into it. I guess that could be a good thing if I just learned how to manage saying bye at the end.

So just like with the message last night–I need to help people achieve their dreams as I’m on the road to achieving mine. And I need to stay connected to God so that I will be able to get ready for tides. Especially with my hardheaded butt. I think half the reason I experience pain like I do is that I get so head- or heart-strong and I won’t let go when it’s time so the Lord has to eject them. But the Lord knows my dreams, especially that one, and he’ll give me what I want and need in his time, which is the perfect time.

<<::update::7/28/2010::>> So when I read the allegory this time, 3 years later, I did think about my career and where I’m headed.  I wonder about the revolution that I start in my dreams–will I ever fulfill all my dreams?  Will I actually make a substantial impact on the black community?  Lucky me, I know I will trust my instinct when I’m led to make my next moves.  I still wonder if as I get older, will I ever be like the man, holding on to something that’s out of my reach and out of my control.  And of course, I read my response from 2007, and funny how we grow over time.  I still don’t give any ole Joe Blow a chance, but I step out there and try, even knowing that if it doesn’t work out my poor lil feelings may be pummeled.  Right now, I’m in limbo, and not really trying but I’m not not trying either.  I’m just being.  And I’m cool with that.  🙂

2. I was led to share this with a bunch of people. Some I talk to regularly, some I never talk to, some I don’t want to talk to, some I probably need to talk to in order to resolve something even if I don’t know what the something is, some that an issue has recently been “resolved” but I haven’t necessarily strived to rebuild, and some who I guess maybe just needed to read this? I dunno. But as each person popped in my head, I entered their address. Who knows what kinda responses I get? I’ll definitely have to stay prayed up before I respond to anything that I get. Heck, I may not get anything. 🙂 And that would be cool too!

<<::update::7/28/2010::>> I guess this still applies because when I read this post, my first thought was to share!

And just because the name has “Sandcastle” in it and because I like this song, I’m including a lil music!

A Wrap-Up of the Sherrod Saga

A Wrap-Up of the Sherrod Saga

Keith Olbermann says plenty in this passionate, eloquent commentary.  I really can’t think of much more to add.  Enjoy.

Also, MSNBC has posted this interesting conversation about the vilification of black women and the differences between “types” of racism.

Lastly, Cynthia McKinney has added another layer to this saga.!/note.php?note_id=406955706138&id=127636853311&ref=mf

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong… Or did it?

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong… Or did it?

So yesterday, when the clip of Shirley Sherrod came out, I was so disappointed in her.  Here’s the clip.

Why would she set herself up like that, I said.  There is a such thing as oversharing, ma’am!  Why would you make a public speech and a tell a story about how you didn’t give someone your best because he wasn’t black.  Whether you think it’s personally acceptable or not, you know it goes against work ethics.  Further, you know that as a black woman in America, you can’t go around revealing that you’ve done stuff like that.  What did you expect?!

I ranted, and I cosigned to other rants about the lack of professionalism.

Then, I got an email from Color of Change and decided to watch the entire video.

QUITE a different story.  Ms. Sherrod’s actual point was that through a real-world scenario she learned that racism is not the only problem that plagues this country–classism is pervasive as well and has to be overcome.  Ms. Sherrod’s story is about how the first time she had to help a white farmer save his farm, she wasn’t too enthused.  She was thinking, I don’t have to do much because I can just take him to “his own kind” and they’ll take care of him. She soon found out, though, that “his own kind” didn’t give a cat’s patootie about this poor farmer, even cheating him out of his money while not doing the legal work “his own kind” was being paid to do.  Ms. Sherrod stepped back in and used all of her resources to keep this man’s farm off the auction block.  The story is about overcoming one perceived reality and learning just how important her job was in the lives of these rural stakeholders.  She is reminding us that sometimes we have to get past “color” and recognize the “oppressed” and help them, a point that I think most of us would appreciate.

So why didn’t we know that yesterday?  Why were we misled by even the NAACP on her comments?  Why did the White House even fully back the Agriculture Secretary’s decision to ask for and accept Ms. Sherrod’s resignation?

I’ll tell you why.  Because the media has power that is unimaginable and because people do not do their due diligence, even when they hold someone else’s future in their hands.

I’m disappointed in myself.  I am.  I KNOW better than to take someone’s word for it (even the NAACP, unfortunately) without doing my own research to come up with my opinion.  I am fully aware of how people’s words can be manipulated to suit agendas.

I am also disappointed in the NAACP, who definitely should not have taken someone else’s clip and made statements against Ms. Sherrod in the media.  She was speaking before an NAACP local chapter’s banquet, for goodness sake!! It’s THEIR tape ultimately.  It’s not enough to me that today they rescinded their statements.  They should have reviewed the video in the first place and stood up for this woman and the speech that was presented.  Do they not have faith in their own organization that they aren’t confident that they wouldn’t have asked her to speak if she weren’t going to give an inspiring and educational message (as she did)?  The ball was definitely dropped.

I am also disappointed in Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for taking the clip and running with it.  As her superior, he has access to her record and should have given her the benefit of the doubt long enough to review the whole tape. Actually, even if he didn’t give her the benefit of the doubt, he should have reviewed the whole tape.  I mean really.  Do you really request someone’s resignation without all the facts?  Especially if she was asserting to him that the clip was taken out of context.

I am, in addition, disappointed in the White House for fully supporting Vilsack’s decision without watching the whole video.  It didn’t dawn on anyone that maybe Ms. Sherrod wasn’t blowing smoke and that the clip could have blown out of proportion?  Or are they just willy nilly handing over support to any government agency head that needs it?

Who am I not disappointed in?  The right-wing manipulators who saw a prime opportunity and took advantage of it.  They have been battling these Tea Party issues, and they saw an opening to use the media and coerce everyone into thinking about something else for awhile.  They succeeded.  Even if just for a day.

This is a lesson to us all that we should wait until we have full (or close to full) information before jumping up on a soapbox and/or a bandwagon and condemning people.  We should wait until we have enough details to really determine what has happened, especially if we have power and influence.

Watch the video.  If you agree with me that Ms. Sherrod should be reinstated in her position, please visit this link, and make your voice heard.

<<< ::Update:: >>>

Since, the following articles and videos have hit the net.  Tell em, Ms. Sherrod.

Re: “the bittersweet” feelings she has, I feel her.  I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t accept the position if it’s offered back.  As my mom told me earlier: Damage control is a bitch, ain’t it?

Boo @ Roland.  Why is he not even letting her talk?  You didn’t listen to her yesterday (as many of us didn’t), and you still aren’t today!  Sir, apologize for jumping to conclusions and then make whatever point you were trying to make.  Someone on Twitter said that she still overshared, and I don’t agree.  That clip didn’t even almost include her entire story (beyond the entire speech).  How do you tell someone how to get past racism if you can’t present a personal experience that ended in her getting past it and helping someone she never would have considered just as vigorously as she would have those she was in the position to help.  Big picture here, folks.  We’re not talking about someone who evolved over a long period of time, who mistreated a white farmer or two and then saw the error of her ways.  When she first MET the white farmer, she sized him up but even then, she didn’t deny him help–she sent him to someone she believed would help him.  When that help didn’t come, she evolved and came to learn that people don’t always just care about color–they care about who has and who doesn’t, and she helped him.  Now, if lil ole me got that from her speech, I don’t get why it’s so difficult to get.  I mean, I know I may be smarter than the average bear, but geez.  I would expect a little more from Mr. Martin.

The following video after the Roland Martin one is a little disconcerting too.  I appreciate that she is finally heard and that the farmers involved are heard, but the interviewer clearly still hasn’t watched the video!!

Soon after, the Rev. Al Sharpton said black leaders should refrain from calling on the administration to apologize, saying that creates the impression that black leadership is fractured. “We are only greasing the rails for the right wing to run a train through our ambitions and goals for having civil and human rights in this country,” Sharpton said.

Al, I’m usually with you, but seriously?  If the administration had the wherewithal to make a statement backing the gross overreaction by Vilsack, then it had the responsibility to apologize after finding out the whole thing was a ploy to counter racism claims and not even substantiated.  C’mon, Al.

In political matters, we HAVE to do better at showing up prepared for battle and not being bullied into battle before you’ve had a chance to know what you’re fighting about.  Why was responding to the Tea Party and FOX News guy more important than understanding the situation itself?

And there it is.

<<< ::Another update:: >>>

Breaking news: USDA boss says sorry, offers Sherrod civil rights job

<<< ::Newest update:: >>>

Here’s NPR’s report.

My Kinda Weekend

My Kinda Weekend

This is what weekends are made of.  I’ve been on a cultural excursion all weekend!  I’ll be back later to talk about them all, but here’s a taste.

It’s National Black Arts Festival week, and I took part of some awesome offerings.  Friday, I attended the screening of Soundtrack of a Revolution, which is a documentary that highlights how music played such an important role in the Civil Rights Movement.  Here’s a trailer.

After that, I rushed over to the Symphony Hall to see the To Curtis with Love tribute concert for Curtis Mayfield.  My favorite Curtis Mayfield song, “Makings of You” was performed by Dionne Farris.  My favorite undergroundish artists, Joi and Van Hunt, were there, along with Frank McComb, the Impressions, and Eddie Levert.  It was a great time.

Yesterday, I went to see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which I really enjoyed. Then I went back to the Rialto to view 41st and Central: The Untold Story of the L.A. Black Panthers.  Man, it was really a wonderful, captivating documentary.  I have always admired certain aspects of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and I’ve looked up to some of its leaders, but I never even knew about Bunchy Carter, who was a really impressive man.  The documentary took us from the beginnings of the Southern Cali chapter of the Black Panthers to the disbanding of it. Here’s the trailer.

After the documentary, I was able to listen to a panel discussion featuring Chuck D, Kathleen Cleaver, Wayne Pharr, the producers of the documentary, and a couple of US organization representatives.  My favorite quotes of the night were from Chuck D:

“If you don’t identify your enemy, how the hell are you gonna fight?”

“Racism comes out every year like a new model car. We have to recognize it and know how to respond.”

So much more to read, research, and consider.  I’m so happy I was able to participate in this event.  My favorite quote in the documentary was

“If you want to be a revolutionary, you have to study revolution.”

Today (and on Thursday as well), I am volunteering for I Dream, a musical production about the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the weekend comes to a close, I appreciate all the mind-expanding, thought-provoking activities I have access to.  Didn’t I just say the other day how awesome my life is?  Happy Sunday, people.

From the Archives: Dream Big

From the Archives: Dream Big

I posted this in my old blog on 6/11/2007.  I gave a speech (or a sermon as the pastor wanted to call it) on 6/10/2007 at Light of Life Church in College Park, GA for their Youth Day.  I just felt like sharing today.  Hopefully, it inspires someone.

I started by telling a story of a little girl with huge dreams to be successful in school and go on to become some sort of leader—maybe a judge, maybe a scientist, but definitely someone who would make a difference in the world. The little girl experienced extreme hate from her 5th grade math teacher, who berated her daily and told her she’d never be anything and that she was dumb and not as smart as people thought she was. Her ma gave her some wonderful advice that she can’t let negative people have a negative effect on her life, and eventually the little girl got her grades back up and started turning the teacher’s discouragement into encouragement and made the decision to prove the teacher wrong. The little girl ended up graduating from high school at 16, earning two bachelors degrees in math by the time she was 20, and has a Masters degree <now 2 Masters degrees>. And now she’s giving speeches. Imagine that. I told them, of course I’ve gone through many trials and tribulations since then, but that particular experience was an early lesson in how to handle people’s negativity and just the world in general.

I encouraged the audience (congregation) to pursue the dreams God gives us, no matter how big or impossible or crazy they may seem. I told them a story I heard Joel Osteen give once–there was a man who went fishing, and he saw another man fishing and noticed that every time he caught a small fish he kept it, but each time he caught a big fish, he would throw it back. Finally after watching this for awhile, the man decided to ask him what’s going on. The guy told him that he only had a 10″ frying pan. We have got to throw away our small frying pan and invest in some larger ones. We can’t limit God, so we shouldn’t limit what he puts in our spirits to do.

The underlying tool we need to pursue our dreams is faith–we have to trust God and the Holy Spirit and have faith that ALL things are possible. Sometimes the trouble is that the idea just seems odd. When God told Noah to build the ark, they had never seen rain ever before. They had no clue what it would be like for water to fall from the sky, let alone water coming so much that it would flood. I’m sure Noah was like what the heck? You want me to do what? Build a huge boat in the middle of the desert?! BUT he had faith and he did what he was told, and it came in handy, eh? You can’t let the size of your dream intimidate you.

Sometimes we’re worried about what other folks say. I can only imagine how much Noah was made fun of. But those people ended up drowning. You can’t let people stop you from making the mark God intends for you to make on the world. You have to stay true to God and yourself. Don’t change your dreams for your critics!

Sometimes the trouble is low self-esteem. We underestimate ourselves. God told Moses to go tell Pharoah to let his people go. Moses said what the heck? I can’t do that! I stutter! And to that, God replied, who made your tongue?! God doesn’t make mistakes. He put you in the life you’re in for a reason. And he equipped you with everything you’ll ever need to conquer all your storms.

Then I shared 6 pieces of advice.

1. Make it a habit to talk to God when you get up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Read your Bible, for it will equip you. You can’t receive your dreams and assignments from God if you’re not in touch with him. Pray for guidance and help in being in the right place at the right time to meet the right people.

2. Plan ahead! Proverbs 14:16 says “The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.” When I’m going somewhere, I don’t just hop in my car and start driving, I have to look at a map or get directions. Same in life–we have to know how to get to where we’re going. Once you make the choice to pursue the dreams God has given you, you have to do your research. Find out what is needed to go to the college you want to go to; find out what you need to get that internship; ask someone what you need to start a business; find out what you have to do to become a minister; find out who you need to know to work on a political campaign. Get an idea of where you’re going before you start walking.

3. Don’t believe everything you see! Proverbs 13:7 says “Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor.” Don’t pursue other people’s dreams because of what you think they have. Pursue what God has especially for you. You don’t know what people really have or what they had to do to get it. Some people who drive fancy cars and live in big houses may not have it made like you think. For all you know they’re on the verge of losing it. And don’t judge the poor looking man on the corner trying to tell people about God or handing out flyers for his new business. The rappers and folks on TV look like they have it all, but you don’t know what goes on when the cameras stop rolling. Don’t believe everything you see, but do believe what God has said to you.

4. Know that everything does not come easy. You HAVE to work for it! Three verses here:
Proverbs 13:4 “Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.”
Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.”
Proverbs 14:23 “Work brings profit, but more talk leads to poverty.”
We’ve all heard that saying “don’t talk about it–be about it.” Don’t spend your time talking about your dreams and waiting for success to find you! Once you’ve received your dream, once you’ve done your homework and figured out what you need to do to achieve it, go do it! Know that there will be rough times and everything won’t always seem to work out, but remember that God has a master plan. Your trials and pitfalls are there for a reason, a reason you’ll find out later. So thank God in advance for the lessons you learn and for divinely setting up life to get you to where you’re supposed to be. Be diligent. You can’t stand on the sidelines. You have to stay in the race for God to get you to the finish line. As my ma told me, in order to enjoy the rainbow, you have to endure the rain.

5. Hang around people who can help you and who know more than you do. Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” Proverbs 14:7 says “Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips.” Surround yourself with positive people who also strive for success. Take advantage of the adults in your life. Listen to their experiences; ask them for their advice; ask them if you can help them with a project in which you’re interested; get to know them. You never know who people know, what opportunities they may know of, or who may be willing to write a letter or make a phone call for you. Stay away from folks with a 10″ frying pan, who think small, who are negative, and who don’t know any more than you do. What can they offer you but bad advice? Don’t get stuck thinking you can’t do something or making wrong decisions. Hang around people who will keep you moving forward.

6. Accept constructive criticism and loving guidance. Do not reinvent the wheel–learn from others! Proverbs 13:18 says “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.” People have been where you are. Even when you feel like NOONE can POSSIBLY understand what you feel, what you’re going through at home or at school, chances are someone does, and God will put them in your path. Those people who love you just want to help you avoid some problems and help you out of others. But you have to LISTEN. Don’t get angry if someone tells you there’s a better way to do something. Don’t get an attitude when someone tells you something you did was wrong. Hear them out. Don’t get wrapped up in the fact that they may be fussing–listen and consider what is being said. You’ll probably be better for it!

I finished by giving them a quote by Benjamin E. Mays:

Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive, and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done.

And I’ll finish this post with a song by one of the best bands of all time, Earth Wind & Fire.

For you, here’s a song to make your day brighter
One that will last you long through troubled days
Giving your heart the light to brighten all of the dark that falls in your way

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

Last night a friend of mine posed the question:

What happens after happily ever after?

I replied that there is no after after the after. Got that?
“Happily ever after” is the rest of time. After the story ends, no matter what else happens during “happily ever after,” the main characters will be okay.  They will overcome obstacles, and life will continue to be worth living.

So why have I been searching for “happily ever after”?  I’m already in it! My life is definitely worth living, and I already know through the blood of Christ, that I’ve already overcome all of my obstacles.  Every minute of every day won’t be “happy,” but I know that through my pain, I find greater appreciation for joy.  Because of all the goodness in my life, I can find joy in my life despite hardships and disappointments.

You have to find “ever after” with the Most High.  It really is all about perspective.  What do we choose to focus on?  Would you rather worry or meditate?  Both require focus–the only difference is the object of that focus.  For instance, I have had some romantic failures.  I am lonely.  Long term companionship seems to evade me.  BUT should I focus on that? Or should I focus on my family, my friends, all my wonderful accomplishments and triumphs, all the projects I have going, all the dreams that I know will one day come to fruition…  Umm, my life is kinda awesome.  No really… It is.

As a dear friend told me during a crying spell, if the only thing wrong is my loneliness and I have everything else pretty much going well, why am I spending my energy on the loneliness?  As I continue to move forward in life, I have to trust that “one day my prince will come” (and stay).  And positivity comes from focusing on all the great stuff.  It’s like the serenity prayer says:

Romance is not the only piece to that “happily ever after” thing.  But having a relationship with Christ is.

It’ll take a whole other post to discuss it, but once we as human beings submit to Christ and reflect his light, we are then able to submit to one another.  I look forward to the day I will reflect the light of some great man who will cherish and adore me.  But until then, I’ll be patient. I am okay with rolling solo, being who I was made to be.

Erykah Badu, as y’all know, is one of my favorite artists.  And she captured what’s in my heart very well in this song.  Enjoy.

I’m an orange moon, reflecting the light of the Son (sun)…

I’m an orange moon, and I shine so bright cuz I reflect the light of my Sun
I praise the day He turned my way and smiled at me
He gets to smile and I get to be orange

Life Lessons on MARTA

Life Lessons on MARTA

So, at lunch, I decided to take a trek on MARTA to support a friend (Black Tie BBQ – check them out for delish food!!), and as fate would have it, I’d have a lightbulb moment randomly.  Which makes sense.  I live by randomness, it seems.

Anywho, on to the lesson.  Currently, I’m reading Blackgammon, which is the story of two black American women who are searching for love (or maybe running from it) and freedom in Europe. The book has been right on time, so naturally, I was really into it when it was time for me to change trains at Five Points.  As I stood on the platform waiting for a westbound train, enthralled by my book, I heard the whir of a train pass me.  I looked up and saw the lights of the train leaving me.  Oh no! I thought…  I have to wait 6 whole minutes for the next train.  Sheesh!  Me and this dangblasted book.  How in the world did I completely not hear the train when it arrived?  (Another reason is because it was a short train–the Bankhead train, which is about half the size of a normal MARTA train and I was too far down on the platform.)

So I moved closer to the center of the platform and took a seat and began reading again, careful to glance up every minute or so at the sign announcing the wait time for the next train.  The next train came. Something felt very wrong about it as I stood there missing another train.  Then it dawned on me!  I wasn’t supposed to catch that train–it’s going in the wrong direction!  I was supposed to be waiting on the eastbound train!!  Too hot (and lazy) to run, I took my time and went around the station to get to the eastbound platform.  And sure enough, when I got to the platform, a train came.  Right on time.


In life, sometimes things seem to be going right and then suddenly, something happens to derail all of it and you’re left wondering “How in the world did that happen?”  Or sometimes although things are great, you come to a unexpected juncture, and you think you’re going the right way, but then you realize that way has a barbed wire fence blocking it.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s there for a reason. Maybe that missed out opportunity wasn’t what you were supposed to be doing anyway.  Maybe it would have taken you in the wrong direction, on to the wrong path.  Maybe once you realize that and go to where you need to be, what you need will be there, waiting on you–always right on time.

Disappointments come.  They’re a part of life.  But the perspective surrounding those disappointments can be positive if you remember that everything happens for a reason and the way they’re supposed to.  You just need to be aware and open for some clarity and enlightenment.

There’s a reason for everything that comes and goes…