A House Divided

History is the road map. We have been down this path before. The part that makes me feel sad is that while some believed that history would never repeat itself, others longed for the days of old. 

This presidential election spoke volumes. And I hear the message loud and clear. Eight years ago, many underestimated the possibility that a Black man (actually he is biracial), could be elected President of the United States of America. Yet he was…twice. Eight and even four years ago, some folks stayed home thinking that “there was just no way”, that he could be elected or re-elected. What were his credentials? Who is he; what is he? There’s no way the American people would vote for an unknown person. But we did. 

And that was all some of us did. Perhaps some of us were selfish; too busy gloating that “we got ours.” Some of us thought that the work was over. So much so that everything else didn’t matter or was not on the same wavelength as our ideals, values, needs and wants. Au contraire. While some were still celebrating others were struggling, even seething about the perceived eradication of values; lack of so called common decency, economics, health care, jobs, global relations and whatever the issues were or is. Some of us let our guard down and paid dearly for it. Some of us just gave up. 

It has been well documented what President Obama endured during his presidency. He has not had it easy. Yes, he has made some mistakes and missed the proverbial mark. His two terms were not absent of adversity and staunch partisan opposition. Any failure assigned to his legacy as President is shared by both political parties and this is an immutable fact. 

Some people dislike and claimed to not trust Hillary Rodham Clinton to the extent that they showed obvious love for Donald J. Trump. There are those who have sincere concerns about her integrity and that of her husband. Others simply cannot and will not accept a woman holding the highest political seat in the nation. The latter is unfortunate and shows that we still have a very long way to go. Nonetheless, as Americans we have the right to choose and vote for whichever candidate we decide is best for us. 

Besides those who voted for him, those who voted for candidates who had no legitimate chance of winning, voted for Trump indirectly. Those who insisted on showing loyalty to Bernie Sanders by not voting at all, voted for President-elect Trump.  

And yes, it was and is their choice to vote in protest or to not vote at all. That is essentially the beauty of living in a democracy. We all have freedom of choice…today. And I defend this right and will protect the right to make a personal choice regardless of whether it is popular by the standards of others or it is not. So long as it is not illegal or will intentionally harm others. 

Personally, I cannot in good conscience support anyone who believes in any level of supremacy over another. You can love your heritage, family, values, community, religion and politics without hating those who think and live differently. We can and sometimes will have to agree to disagree. A dictatorship says that we all have to think and live the same. I’m not down for that and I never will. I have a right to live my life the way I choose and so do you; so long as we do not infringe upon each other’s right to liberty. 

My candidate did not win. And I feel sicken by this fact. I am entitled to feel this way and I’m not going to get over it on anyone elses time table but my own. This is not a threat to anyone either. These are my opinions and my feelings that are mine to manage. This is also not about my being a Democrat; I vote based upon whose qualifications and values are most aligned with my own. If that candidate happens to be aRepublican, so be it. The problem that I have with the now President-elect is the platform on which he ran. 

You can attempt to compare him to President Obama or Hillary or Bill Clinton until times get better. I have to respectfully offer that the correlations are minimal at best. The divisive vitriol of this election on behalf of the former Republican nominee was exclusively his and is unprecedented, at least in my lifetime. My ancestors were exposed to this level of hate and threats. This proposed level of oppression is new to my generation. So pardon me for being appalled for being told that we have to make “America Great Again.” Per my history books and in my experience, while we have plenty of opportunity to become a greater nation, we are indeed great today and much better than we were before. 

I agree that the election is over and Trump has been elected. What is both disheartening and hypocritical is those who are protesting or are upset by this result, are being told by those who feel differently to “get over it.” Or to “come together.” I agree and I respect that. Which then begs the question, did you say the same thing to the opponents of President Obama who faced relentless staunch partisan opposition throughout his two terms? Whether it be through the so called Birther Movement, which was being spread as fact, or when Obama was publicly called a liar during a Congressional meeting about health care by a Republican House member.  Were these detractors told to respect the office of the President of the United States even if you don’t respect the man or his politics? 

I am personally “over it” and am ready to move on. I already have.  I am ecstatic that this election is finally over because it was making us all sick. I am also going to be just fine regardless who sits in the Oval Office. Why? Because I have faith in God who will always protect and guide me. However, I can only speak for myself. 

Overall, leadership and decorum starts at the top. If Donald Trump is genuinely invested in uniting the country which will soon solely rest on his shoulders, may I offer the following friendly advice:

Get off of Twitter and get in front of the American people. And speak to us. All of us. 

Use the familiar free airwaves to make speeches just like you did to advertise your reality TV show, and just like you did when you ran for office. 

People don’t care about what you say. It’s about action now. Put your money where your mouth is. 

Keep your promises because many people seem to believe in you. 

Your platform was about being different than Washington politicians; well you’re now a part of that political institution. You are now Washington D.C. in the hearts and minds of the world. Mr. Trump, you will soon be sworn in as Commander in Chief of the United States. If you are in fact different there is no better time to show that than now.  

Unify the country by acknowledging that some are rightfully afraid and need reassurance before they can move forward with you. If you ignore these legitimate concerns, you are really no better than any other politician who made similar empty promises.  

You are no longer a Republican nominee or a businessman. You now speak on behalf of the American people collectively. Say something and do something to restore order and peace in our nation. 

Violence and war is not the answer. Race is not the problem. We all want the same basic things in the end. The freedom of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; we each want justice, equality and peace. 

As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

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Life’s Anatomy 

We will punish you for being bad. In one fit of anger or real ness you can lose everything. Censorship is real; it has become the new law of the land. The new Constitution. A celebrity or mere mortal has a lapse of judgement or dare I say a moment of candor and we throw him or her away. It’s like saying that one small pimple permanently disfigures & mames the entire face.  
How do you throw a person away? Just send them to a proverbial corner to stay as if he or she doesn’t exist in the first place. What happens when they reach out in their human fragility after the fact?Don’t you dare reach back to save or console them. Or we’ll put you in that corner too. A human needs somebody in his corner. Everyone needs someone to say “I love you though I may not like you or approve of what you did or said.” 

We all need arms to welcome us in during our darkest days and after our longest nights. We all have missed the mark. After doing the most thinking that we are smart. Taking off in the wrong direction thinking it was right, just to see the world and make art. 
We all will make love to someone not worthy of us; one who is incapable of catching us once we have fallen for them. We all will meet a fake friend; an opportunist, a coach, a bully, a teacher and a savior. Sometimes multiple times over. 

And sometimes if we are blessed; we become better people because of all of it. 

Happy 1-year Anniversary to us!

Rymarkablesteph turns 1 today! How cool is that, Guys & Dolls?! Thank you so very much for spending time with here. For reading my work and taking the time to comment or simply “Like” one of my posts. 

This blog is quite reflective of my life right now…it is a work in progress. I am figuring things out as I go and when I feel something substantive, I write and post it. Writing is very natural to me but like with any form of art, I have to be in a creative space in which to allow my heart and thoughts to be transcribed. 

My life is quite demanding like most of yours. I recently celebrated two years of homeownership which is such a blessing. This blessing also comes with enormous responsibility. A case in point…As I was attempting to chill on my back porch last week, pine tree leafs, and other debris was peeking out at me from my gutters.  When I would go to get the mail from my mail box, similar debris greeted me there at the front of my house. The rule of thumb with gutter maintenance is if you can see the debris from the gutters, it is time to clean them.  UGH!!!!! What happened to just chilling and letting someone else handle it? It’s me. I am the one who has to handle it. 

I’m also trying to pick out paint colors for some of my rooms. No, I have not painted. I have not had a housewarming party. No excuses. I just haven’t decided to do it. I will one day. Someday. 

In between my house, relationship, family stuff, friendships and work, is my blog which allows me the freedom of authentic expression. I am more me here than I am anywhere else. 

I will continue to attempt to tantalize your senses with content that is worthy of your time. I am truly grateful for your support. ❤️

Happy Anniversary!

Stephanie 

Everybody wants to rule the world 

When you’re standing in the spotlight in all of your glory and then someone else steps in the way…accidentally…causing a shadow temporarily interfere with the moment…it is frustrating to say the least. 

Such an occurrence is also called life.  And that is how the story goes sometimes when we are surrounded by the greatness in others. The great singers, dancers, orators, writers, chefs, teachers and preachers. Anyone who shares a similar interest in the arts or life in general. Jealousy can brew among the closest of friends and family if left unchecked. 

I admire Venus and Serena Williams and their triumphant rise to fame due to their gift of excellence in the game of tennis. I have equal admiration for their father, Richard Williams. Mr. William taught BOTH of his daughter how to play tennis. In the early years, he taught them the tricks of the trade which also involved them playing as opponents as each young lady honed her individual skills. 

Mr. Williams did not choose between Venus or Serena by favoring one over the other. He allowed both of his daughters to realize her individual excellence and become the best tennis player that she was capable of becoming. It is evident that Mr. Williams was on to something. Today, Venus and Serena Williams are ranked among the greatest athletes of all time. They each have won the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and other prestigious tennis matches. 

There have been times in their respective careers when one sister played against her sister professionally having the full knowledge that there could only be one winner.  One champion.  One. 

I am sure in those moments that it was hard for the sister who lost the match. Didn’t they come from the same stock, gene pool; didn’t they both have a comparable passion for the game? Didn’t both want to win each time she played even when the opponent was her sister? Your opponent was your sister. Why didn’t she let you win? Why did you let her win? 

What the Williams sisters have managed to accomplish that most of us cannot or will not do is to allow others to shine without interference. It’s usually all or nothing. “Me first or else.” “I have to be the first to do everything.” “If there are any accolades to be bestowed upon anyone, let it be me and only me.” “I am the greatest.” I am “fresher than yoooooooou…fresher than you. Oh!” 

There is always going to be someone younger, thinner, faster, prettier, richer, smarter or more talented. That is just the way it is. Accept it now before it is too late. Arrive ready to be your own brand of great. Identify what your trademark is and cultivate it. Celebrate it and by all means share it. Just know that you will likely attract others who have a patent pending on his or her own “special sauce.”  Know that it is good and it is very good. For all of us. 

I am one of a billion writers. I did not invent literature, journalism or blogging. There is someone out there doing the exact same thing that I am doing right now. And it is good and very good that he or she is. I do not have to put down my proverbial pen because someone else picked up theirs. My thoughts, experiences and life are woven into my art.  My writing is a part of me. No one can expertly transcribe what I think and feel. No one. And the same is true for you. 

There is no need to aspire for world domination. Life is no more a race to a finish line anymore than it is a pie. Why work hard at keeping anyone from anything that is rightfully theirs? You are playing your life small by allowing yourself to become distracted and consumed by keeping someone else down. You put them in an opposing position and have successfully voted them better than you, by the energy you expend by keeping them in their so-called place. 

When you know your place in the world you become immune and are no longer threaten by where others stand in theirs. 

“Make America Great Again”

On the eve of Memorial Day I decided to share a recent experience.  Yesterday, I went grocery shopping at a store that I frequent. As I was walking through the aisles trying to be obedient to my prepared shopping list (the horror!), a young white man spoke to me. I wasn’t expecting it but as he walked past me, I realized that he said, “Hello” or something of that nature. I responded with “Hello” and proceeded with my shopping. Honestly, I didn’t notice much about him other than his head was kind of down, he was wearing a red hat, and a red employee vest. We were headed in opposite directions of the aisle. As I made it midway through the aisle, I heard him speaking very animated to a couple.  To a white older couple; he was showing them his hat proudly, and said, “Make America Great! You like that, I had it made!” 

Huh?! What just happened? The couple seemed uncomfortable and sort of laughed it off and kept it moving. I do not know if they knew him; if they are regulars at the store and this explains why he felt comfortable sharing his brand new red hat that he had made with them. I do not know if this is why he spoke to me in the first place. Wait! Did he speak to me and conveniently drop his head so that I could notice and read his hat? I didn’t. I only noticed it after he drew attention to himself by boasting a slogan, or sentiment that is perplexing to me. 

It’s sad if he was trying to deliberately offend me. It really is. He does not know me and I do not know him. I could have been the staunchest Republican ever. And maybe he’s not a Republican either. Maybe he likes Trump or the idea of him. Maybe he just liked that slogan.  Who knows and at this point, who cares? For that matter, just because I am a Black Woman, I’m automatically a Democrat a la Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supporter? We both are entitled to our political viewpoints and personal values. The problem is when these preferences are used as a weapon to harm and to hurt. 

I wish the young man had been bold enough to read his hat to me like he did for that couple. Because I had a comment for him. Or actually, I have a question. When exactly was America great? Just to be clear, questioning Americas greatness is not my mantra but his or maybe his candidate’s…they are saying that America is not currently a great country. Really? 

What makes this so in your opinion? And please enlighten me and tell me what era in our country’s history was it so “great.”  I need you to answer this question for me as a woman who also happens to be Black. Let’s hear it. Was it the early 1800, 1900s? During the Great Depression? Or let me guess, the 50s and the 60s? As we take a day to honor the men and women (who represent all nationalities, religious backgrounds and races), who paid the ultimate sacrifice, how dare you attempt to insult me with your hat…if this is what you were aiming to do.  How dare you? I forgive you because if you knew better, you would behave better.  

I happen to believe that as a nation we have quite a few challenges to overcome still. America is not perfect but I do believe that she has greatness in her because of her people. I do believe that  we are better today than we were yesterday. There is no one politician or political Party that can take all of the credit for how far we have come, or be blamed for how far we still need to go.  

Just like a slogan and hat is not enough to affect positive change, neither is a platform built upon divisiveness and hate.  Your political or religious views do not make you or I a better person. Talk is cheap. Only our actions and coupled with our sincere and collective pursuit for justice and equality for all will we accomplish that. 

Beautiful 

I never really thought of myself as pretty. Or even beautiful.  I never thought that I was ugly or hard to look at either.  It’s just that I had a vision of what pretty and beautiful  was and she (me) was not it.  I’m not tall.  I have never been skinny. My hair has never been long enough. My teeth are not perfectly straight.  I have a hybrid of my father’s and mother’s hands.  My hands are petite and equally not thin. I do not necessarily think my hands are my best feature.

My legs are “big” and so is my butt. They have always been since I was born. I have never embraced either attribute.  I am perplexed by those who pay for butt enhancements. I am thinking so you want to have a shape where your top and bottom are two different sizes. Like, two or three sizes apart? You want cat calls about how big your butt is and what some random primate would love to do to and with you sexually? I need a good scrub down just thinking about it.

People have told me that I am pretty and attractive, but I did not accept it. Not really. I assumed that they were being nice and polite versus factual. And when your parents and family tell you how you look, Lord knows they have no credibility because I mean really, what else are they supposed to say? It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. You know?

I bring this up because I just made a post on Facebook and somehow it brought up my camera roll from my phone. It began showing a slideshow of pictures of a very pretty woman.  Beautiful in fact.  I noticed her alluring brown eyes.  Her perfect lips.  She had lovely hair that was full, at nice length and it looked super healthy.  Her makeup was soft and accentuated her features versus the features of the makeup.  She took a picture with two children who really, really like her and think that she’s awesome.  I realized that this woman was me.

This post is not a covert solicitation for compliments.  Or a cry for empathy or sympathy. I am good, I assure you that I am.  I just found it interesting that someone like ME…having a very healthy sense of self-confidence, self-worth and esteem could be capable of being so unaware of something so obvious.  If this could happen to me, it has to have happened or is happening to someone else too.

When you don’t know who you are, you are stranger to everyone.  People can’t get to know the real you and receive you because you do not know who this person is either.  If you don’t know that you’re beautiful, or what any or all of your positive attributes are, how do you barter in the world?

If you don’t think that you’re beautiful, then you settle for a less than beautiful mate. You do not have the confidence or wherewithal to know when you deserve better. Everyone is doing you a favor by being with you, versus you being the prize to covet.

This self awareness extends beyond aesthetics.  If I do not know the extent of my talent, skill sets and abilities how do I negotiate a higher salary for my time and experience in business? At what point do I stop feeling lucky that they chose me, and knowing that they are equally as lucky that I chose them?

This has nothing to do with gratitude or being genuinely appreciative of an opportunity.  Of course you and we all should be.  In these situations extend a heartfelt Thank You once.  And only once. And let your deliverables be the perpetual demonstrator of this appreciation.

I am pretty. I am actually beautiful.  I know it now. You can agree or disagree and that’s okay.  Today I recognized my beauty for myself.  And I know beauty. I appreciate and admire it in others. I’ve just added myself to the list.

One Nation, Indivisible

The problem with the “Trump appeal”; this brash, abrasive, divisive, and deadly weapon of a viewpoint is that it is a threat to world peace and all humanity. Some people praise him and have decided to vote for this “businessman” because he is finally saying what some groups have been wanting to say for the last 8 years…or longer. People celebrate that he insults or obliterate his opponents with childish retorts versus disarming them with facts and solid demonstrated performance. Some seem to admire his celebrity, his wealth, his brand…his one man show. Sadly, these attributes are apparently sufficient to lead these United States. 

Trump is entitled to his views and sincerely held prejudices as an individual and even as a businessman. But not as the President of the United States. We are a democracy of the people, by people and for the people. And as the people, we get to assess whether our government and elected officials are qualified to uphold these inalienable and Constitutional rights. 

Trump is not like you…and he is not like me in the sense that he isn’t working to pay off a mortgage, a car, student loans in the same way that I am. He would be insulted if he was called middle-class. Yet middle-class sometimes feels like an aspirational goal for me and countless others. I have never filed bankruptcy to make all of my debts disappear and retain the majority of my assets and/or wealth.  He isn’t driving himself to work; working in an office. He does not work for anyone. But I do. And more than likely, you do too.  Or you have at some point in your life. 

And to be fair, the same fact is true for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders; or Cruz, or Rubio or Kasich. I don’t care what or how their script writers, interns, publicists, lawyers, advisors or whomever try to spin their political personas…none of these people are like me. Therefore, I’m not voting from that perspective. 

The good thing is, a candidate does not need to live in my community, have the same or similar cultural, racial or socio- economic experience to relate to me and my concerns. You just need to be aware of the shared concerns of the American people regardless of his or her race, nationality, gender, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.   

Race is not the only pressing issue in America but it is one of the main focal points, namely in this current election. And this is alienating everyone. As I said in the beginning, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and views.  I have no more right to discredit your life experiences anymore than you have a right to disregard mine. And though my race frames my experiences, it is not the sum total of who I am or the totality of my existence. 

My issue with this apparent Trump appeal is he is rejuvenating and encouraging a dangerous undercurrent of hate.  The platform in which he stands is not congruent with “One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”  Rather he is pledging to make America “great again.” For whom? And how does he propose to do that by literally building a wall?  To get on the national stage and make inflammatory and derogatory comments, is literally inciting fear and hate which is something that America does not need more of.  

Has anyone stopped to think where Trump goes after he is done with his speeches? Is he going back to one of the five boroughs on the subway? Is he going to work the next day to work side by side with or for the very individuals he insulted the night before? No, he is not. He returns to his life of luxury and privilege.  

Trump is spreading the virus of bigotry among common, working class people, who in turn betray and destroy their own communities. Not his. And not Hillary’s, Bernie’s, or President Obama’s. 

There are plenty of Internet trolls who mask their fear and insecurity behind disparaging comments and name calling all day long. Invariably, these sad individuals are harmless. Many of them  likely lack the emotional intelligence to affect any meaningful change to be a real threat.  They have no access to any lobbyists, political powerhouses or any lawmakers who would dare engage them legitimately.  Talk is cheap. 

Unless of course you are running for and are elected to a public office; a job that requires that you work for the greater good of all people, including those that you do not like.  Therefore what Trump is doing is dangerous as it is egregious.  

If health care reform is the issue; fix it. If war is not the answer, then let’s stop going to war.  If education, immigration, taxes, education, public assistance, and other social programs are the issue, then let’s roll up our sleeves; get some bipartisanship going and make it happen. What does race have to do with any of it in truth? By being inclusive and respectful of all viewpoints regardless of the demographic details of the individual…this is how you truly help America CONTINUE to be great. 

I need somebody

Why won’t someone do something? Why won’t someone do something about poverty, racism, social injustice, unemployment, illiteracy, sexism, violence, crime, etc.? 

Why am I never chosen? Why don’t people like me? Why am I not getting promoted, recognized for my good deeds, efforts? Why do people treat me so badly? Why do I never seem to have enough? 

The aforementioned are common questions that have plagued each of us at some point in our lives. I know that I have asked several of these questions personally more times than I care to recall.  There is an old song that some who are familiar with gospel music would recognize…”It’s me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” Or how about the more secular lyrics, “If you look into your heart…With a positive mind…Take self inventory of your woman and your glory…” These songs or lyrics have specifically enpowered me to seek many of my answers by taking self inventory of my life. Not yours, my parents, my friends, my ancestors, co-workers, or whomever else. It’s always me. 

Yes, we need help in our lives to help us along the way; whether it be academically, personally, professionally or otherwise. No successful person is without debt to someone. And people are inclined to help those who first demonstrate and willingness to succeed and help themselves. 

Some people want to walk around working strictly 9-5…not a second longer but want to know why others do not recognize his or her value. How?! On what occasion would these people gain the necessary exposure to recognize above and beyond contributions versus “just doing one’s job”? I am not suggesting that working overtime is commensurate with quality because it unfortunately is not. It is a fact that there are people who will ride a clock like a bike without contributing an ounce of quality or significant value to the business and/team. 

If you want a promotion, does anyone else know this beyond your Mom and best friend? How would your boss be able to detect in a meaningful way that you are ready for the next level? Most people’s telepathy game is under-developed; people know what you both tell and show them. Often times, the decision makers are being inundated by the accomplishments of the doers anyway. You have to set yourself a part from everyone else in a constructive and professional way.  

It is okay if you are not quite ready or are uncertain about the next steps or do not as feel confident in your next move.  Just know that now is as good a time as any to get ready. Prepare by taking the initiative and start learning what you don’t already know. Become a sponge; ask questions, ask to sit in on meetings to scribe or just to observe so that you become familiar with what the issues the decision makers face. So that you become familiar with the vernacular, code of business and learn the unspoken rules.  If you are serious, figure out a way to offer tangible, actionable suggestions or services to help address key concerns if you are prepared to do so. 

Maybe your present issue(s) are not professional; maybe it is community and social justice concerns. Yes we are in the heart of an presidential election year and like you, I have issues that are near and dear to my heart. However, I do not live in D.C. or the D.C. area, therefore to expect these candidates to have intimate knowledge  about the local issues in my community is a little far-fetche and dare I say somewhat unreasonable. There are 50 whole States, after all.   

My local issues or yours are not by any means less imperative or important; I can appreciate however, that my local issues may take a back seat to the on-going Flint, Michigan water disgrace as an example. Or the police brutality and social injustices happening in cities across the country. What about our international relations? So that being said, as I prepare to vote, how about I also hold to task the elected officials ALREADY in place, to address my municipal, borough and State issues? Right now. Some of these issues cannot wait until January 2017.  

I feel that as a society, we must learn to follow the proverbial chain of command. There are times when it becomes necessary to go over the heads of those who are in position and are inept or ineffective in his or her role.  Until such time that this proven, we need to help everyone to do their jobs by requiring them to do so. It is a bit obtuse to expect the President to care more about issues that say my mayor, governor or State Senator have gotten away with ignoring. Make sense? 

I personally believe in one savior. My Savior is not running for any office. And yet there is still me who is accountable for her choices, decisions and indecision. I need someone to save me. I need someone to fix what I and man cannot.  So when I go to the polls to vote, I am acutely aware that I am voting for an infallible mortal who is no savior of man, woman or child.  This is a person having  far more courage and desire to be responsible for the commonwealth than I. I take my hat off to him or her for signing up for a career in public service.  

Yes, I need somebody too. It seems that in these very precarious and perilous times that we all do.  

The *N* Word

This post or the sentiments shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or feeling of anyone but…MINE. I am not a spokesperson for all Black people therefore I do not approve of this post being used to interpret how ALL or other Black people think and feel about race and/or the *N* word.  Please refer to the individual for specific questions or instructions.  Thank you. 

I don’t like it. It is offensive.  I am not a nigger. 

After a dear friend suggested that I write about this topic, I took on the challenge. This is such a loaded topic with more layers than an onion; it is emotional as it is painful and personal.  It is embedded in American history as it was often the last word Black people heard before being lynched or killed.  It was used as a weapon. Almost as deadly as a loaded gun. It caused or causes damage; the kind that is not easily forgiven or forgotten. 

I can’t recall the exact year but I do remember everything else. I will take a wild guess and say that it was at least 17 years ago. I was living in Chicago where I was born and raised. It was an early weekday afternoon and I was on my way to work. I was in downtown Chicago, steps away from the famed Sears Tower and it happened. To me.  I don’t recall what preceded it or what provoked it. “You fucking nigger!” This is what I was called for the first time in my life. It was by a white man who (based upon where we were located), could have easily been a Stock broker, an attorney, financial adviser; based upon how he was dressed, he had a professional position somewhere. He appeared and seemed harmless until he verbally assaulted me. “You fucking nigger,” is what he decided to say to me as our worlds intersected in that moment.  Nothing happened before or during that exchange between two strangers, two people that required or necessitated him calling me a nigger. Was  I rude to him? Did he take exception to my attitude? Had I been an asshole for the seconds that he experienced me? If so, why not say that? Why did he have to call me a nigger? 

I never thought about that time much since it occurred. I know that I was appropriately livid at the time. But over time I decided to let it go. I had to, otherwise this experience would have changed me.  It had the potential to be a game changer…in a very negative way as it related to how I regarded other white people. 

This is why the *N* word is so impactful still in the 21st century.  I was alarmed and disarmed when that individual called me a nigger. He immediately had the upper hand. He shut everything down momentarily and he won by leveraging a form of cultural and racial power that was disporportinate to what I was capable of. My ancestors more than likely never oppressed his ancestors.   My ancestors had no positional or legal authority to deny his ancestors any inalienable rights; privileges or the fundamental right to live like a human being in this country. Or in Chicago.  He did not know me and he did not need or want to; my skin color told my story and he told me what he thought of me. Even if I returned fire and met his racism with my own and started spewing racial slurs back at him, it would have been the equivalent of showing up to a gun fight with a sling shot. 

There are some White people, non-Black and even some Black people who argue that the *N* word is an acceptably universal term, permissible because it is flagrantly used in hip hop or rap music. The artists who use and defend the use of the word have a variety of reasons for doing so. Some will argue that it diminishes the cultural and historical tenor of the word; others bottom line it and say that it’s approved street or urban vernacular.  Others claim to only take artistic license in using the word and maintain that the word is not a part of their personal vocabulary. 

As I said in the beginning, I am only speaking for me. I don’t know what anyone else intends to say when they speak. I have no authority or control of someone else’s usage or command of the English language.  I know what I mean and what I intend to say.  I also learned in college when I studied Communications, that communication in and of itself is about the Receiver and not the Sender. It does not matter what I intended to say or what message I wanted you to get; it is all about what you heard. 

So when it comes down to the “N” word, legitimate so-called hypocrisy is fine with me. Let me break it down further. If another Black person calls me a nigger, he or she cannot oppress me. We have a similar cultural experience.  This person can insult, alienate and provoke me. However, in the literal and historical reference; the oppressive intent of the word is absent when Black people use the *N* word among each other.  Therefore, I am not equally offended if the word is used by another Black person.  I accept that this is how this particular individual thinks, speaks or chooses to express him or herself. And yes I absolutely clutch my pearls and become uncomfortable when the word is used by Black people in the presence of non-Black people.  It’s just not okay to me for the reasons that I have already explained. 

As I also said at the beginning of this post, I personally find this pejorative term offensive regardless of who uses it. However, I do realize there may be times when the word is contextually relevant among Black people to make a specific point.  

Personally, my vocabulary is expansive enough that I know how to use my words versus centuries old, erroneous, demeaning and hateful stereotypes to define or comment on objectionable behavior that is not exclusive to any one race or  so-called “minorities.” 

Happy New Year

Sometimes we get so deep on the final day of the calendar year that we become a bit too overzealous. We’re going to lose all of the weight, pay off all the debt, heal all old wounds, get married, have a baby, earn a promotion, etc. Most of what we find unsatisfactory about our present situation…took time to become that way. We can make significant progress in 365 days…just give yourself a break and breathe first before diving in. If you commit to being grateful, happy, at peace and awesome in this very second, you’re already on the right track. Goals and resolutions are indeed necessary when you know that more is required of your life. Sometimes radical changes are eminent, inevitable and unavoidable. Only you know if you gave this calendar year 100% of your efforts or if you played yourself too small. If you only existed through most of 2015 versus living your life beyond your own definition of fullness, I ask you…are you satisfied? If you have more issues than Vogue; are you part of the problem? You are definitely an integral part of the solution. As a dear friend once told me in love…be gentle with yourself. Love yourself. No, seriously fall IN LOVE with yourself. Most of us do not really like ourselves, let alone LOVE who we are. And this is evident in how we interact with the world. You can not love me or expect me to love you, if you can’t find one solitary reason why you should love you. I am just a mirror projecting back to you what you are sending out into the world. Are you satisfied with that? 
Happy New Year, Happy New You.