Thursday, March 31, 2016

Colors in a Crayon Box

Every color in the crayon box is given a different standard; some wrapped in unjust expectations others wrapped in privilege. We live in a world where the media exploits Black on Black crime as a means to defame and discredit our race and use White on Black crime to make headlines, gain ratings and stir racial tension. Race has always mattered in America only in a sense to create division and make money. The conversations about the roots of Racism are still relevant and real today. The fight seems to always be centered around "Black" and "White" as if these are the only two colors that exist. Even beyond that, what's often overlooked and tucked away is the story of the Native Americans given the color "Red", the separation of "Brown" and "Black" the lost stories of Africans, Islanders, , the golden silence of the Asian American communities related to "Yellow", every color has a unique story that deserves to be told by it's culture for the Nation, the World to hear and see. 


We're in a war! On social media you can type in "Black Lives Matters" and over a millions quotes, stories, blogs, comments, photos, video you will find some very interesting things from all Americans. It causes us to realize that we are in midst of a race war in our country. The Black Lives Matter movement was designed to bring awareness to Police Brutality targeted at Black Americans, specifically Black men and boys. In fact, some would argue that after the election of President Barack Obama, a hidden, rarely spoken about war on Black Men became front and center to not just the Nation, but the world. Over time, many have challenged the mission and goals of the BLM movement which have left a mysterious cloud of uncertainty to citizens. 


The question that many Americans, yes many Black Americans too are asking, "Will Black lives matter to Black people?" To be honest, it's a real question; a relevant question. We have to also sweep around our own front doors. Racism is real, we all know this for a fact, but the actions many of us display towards ourselves, to our communities, children, women and Seniors wouldn't showcase Black Lives Matter. However, having pride in your beliefs and traditions doesn't make you too good or a sell out. It means you're conscious minded and awake. We are still praising gang members, drug dealers and hoodlums for selling the drugs flooded into our communities all because they through a community fish fry or give to the local church or community center. We still praise the "rolling stone mentality" praising our men and boys for making babies, walking away from responsibilities and disrespecting our women through actions, entertainment, music, etc. I agree with a few, A FEW, things Ben Carson does say about race. People should be working, our people should be working and wanting to work. I get it. Life is hard. Who is is easy for? I for one am tired of paying the way for our "kin folk" to go the Family Dollar, local mall to get shoes, nails and hair "did", groceries and things they waste. Not when more of these streets can be paved, schools remodeled, community center programs funded, etc. 


Often times, our children are suffering and we continue to support poor behavior from adults. We all do it by celebrating "thots", "sagging", "videos of kids fighting and being violent", etc. in front of children yet get mad when they do it. Children model the behavior of adults. If we continue to add to the problem of children and youth who can't read, who can't work and who won't do the right thing, then we don't have to advocate to a system that Black Lives Matter. We have to start holding ourselves accountable. This accountability doesn't take away from the fact that Police Brutality and unjust actions against any citizen is wrong and should not be tolerated. However, we have to wake up and see the need for unity not just within our race, but across color, gender and religious lines. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Authentic Love

Can love become tainted over time?  It can if it's not nourished. We measure the authenticity of our relationships on the principles of trust, honesty, passion.We must first develop this within ourselves. Love requires us to be 100% authentic with ourselves and others. Regardless of what the draw is, there has to be a realization that Love has to be nourished. If it's not, it becomes tainted by the things we encounter in life. 


Authentic Love requires you to be active. We can't embrace love if we aren't practicing it. Many times our relationships become stale because we aren't practicing love. Our intentions and lifestyles effect the way we love. Why we do things influences how we do them. Whenever we do things for selfish gain, it's often times at the expense of others; including those we love. Our lifestyle is a reflection of how authentic our love is. When we love someone and it's authentic, we don't have a choice but to tell them the truth, to honor, respect and support them. Authenticity is our raw character reflected through our actions; our expressions of love. 

Authentic Love requires us to do an assessment of our methods of expressing love to others. We have to check our actions to see if they are truly adding up to what we're professing. We can't profess to love others and protect them from responsibility and accountability. Our actions are driven by our motives. What we want for people may not be what's designed for them. We can't profess to love others and then shelter or devalue their purpose. Our motives at times can be selfish and self centered and we have to check it! Authenticity challenges us to live and act in love unconditionally. It forces us to check our motives, intentions and expressions of love. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Good of Bad

It's always been cool to be bad in our society. There's just something about the element of "darkness" that draws people in to wanting to live on the wild side. We all know the importance of goodness, why it's right to be good and why it's best to do the right thing, but there's a powerful force called temptation that we all battle. 

In this battle, our curiosity to experience the things that our elders, parents and religious leaders shun us away from, drives us right into the pathway of temptation. It's not people that are bad, it's just the desire to be bad that draws people away from what's good. Some of us have mastered making bad look cool that we believe it's right. It's not all bad! I read a story that quoted someone saying that,"bad experiences make great stories!" It's actually true! 


Here's the lesson. While some will cringe at the thought of having to deal with bad experiences in life, there are those of us who realize that even in bad experiences, there's something good that comes out as a result. Where bad experiences may make for headlines, gossip and entertaining drama, there's also a learning opportunity. Changing all things bad to work for your purpose requires you to take control of situation, embrace the process and put to work your gifts! Make your bad experiences work for your good. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Do it for the Vine!

So what's next? After the days of Lent, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, what's next for the church? ACTION! Starting here in America, we are in the mist of a human rights war that can only be ended by a spiritual revival. The world we live subjects our children civil unrest due to terrorist threats and my question is, what will the church do beyond praying? Don't just be a visitor on special holidays, or regular Sundays. Be inspired to do your work and make the power of the Resurrection real in the lives of those you come across. 


Each one can reach one! After the celebration of Easter, it's time for action. I would love to see more churches doing more mission work in their own backyards first! We have a literacy problem in America. Let's be honest. If your church is sending 4,000 books to Africa but your children sitting in children's church can't spell the church name correctly let alone their own names then Houston, we have a problem! The women's and children shelters are full in most cities. How many churches own shelters, apartment complexes or affordable housing units, food banks, community centers? To me, this is where the outreach from the church is needed. The power of the resurrection inspires us to take action and do the work.


It's time! We can't continue the shouting, singing, dancing, praying, praising and worshiping with no follow up or action! Action begins first with our character, how we honor God by treating other people simply as decent, human beings. Helping our fellow man in need. Doing the work in the church is made complete by the work that's done outside of the walls of the church. What's next after the Resurrection is action. The life of Jesus, or even modern day prophets focused on the work building up others in Love. That's the common denominator. What we do is what makes the difference! The manner in which we do it makes the change. Work now and shine later after your purpose has been fulfilled. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Set In Stone

One of the most life changing moments anyone can have is experiencing the power of Love. If you look at any world, religious or peace leader, their stories live on today because of the methods used to empower people simply with Love. 

In our daily lives we can relate to our bosses or supervisors, our elected officials, leaders and major corporations that are always trying to change us. They may use their position, manipulation, money, objects, intimidation or other methods that force people to change their actions, but it doesn't mean it changes their hearts. Love is the only thing powerful enough to change people wholeheartedly; mind, body and soul. 

We become numb to tragedies because they are common place. Rarely do we see or hear about the stories of Love. The news and social media constantly report stories daily of tragic shootings, killings, robberies, riots, civil unrest and all types of chaos happening. The root cause is money and power to gain respect. It's difficult to maintain integrity and character when objects are placed over Love. Love is the gateway to peace. 

The power of Love is set in stone! There's nothing more fulfilling in life than to reach the place where Love transcends all. As many across the world acknowledge and celebrate "Good Friday", be encouraged to practice Love daily to every person you meet. My take away from Lent, the passion of the Christ and the significance of Resurrection Sunday is that there is purpose in our pain. Don't limit the power and being of Love. The sacrifices that have been made for us by our ancestors is what makes the story of Love real for us. Love encourages us to reach beyond the lines of color, creed, religion or differences. 

For those who sacrificed dreams, visions and even their lives for justice, progression or advancement...they sacrificed for something more important than what they may have wanted. They made sacrifices for their families and for others to be able to experience and know the power of Love. Be inspired by their sacrifices to be the light that shines Love into the world. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

(fill in the blank)

What label are you wearing today? We are always filling in the blanks, but what happens after those blanks are filled in? We are often judged, ridiculed, shunned, cast out, bullied and placed in a box due to how we have labeled, classified or identified ourselves. Why do we allow people to fill in the blanks of our lives. We have to stop giving the world control of who we are by reclaiming our identities. 

I AM Black, White, Yellow, Red, Orange, Brown 
I AM Atheist, Muslim, Spiritualist, Naturalist, Christian
I AM Male, Female, Trans-gendered or Other 
I AM Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Bi Sexual, Asexual 

Do labels confine us? I don't recall a time in life ever not having to classify myself. Our society has crafted cultural dynamics to put people in boxes. We separate ourselves based on zip codes, income, family lineage, religion, race, sexuality, if you like Coke or Pepsi, everything is designed to separate one from another. Being able to identify with like minded people, those with the same beliefs, ideals and cultural practices is always a plus. In fact, it's needed. However, in a society that determines what's acceptable, what's tolerated, what's allowed or "approved" , these classifications don't always render positive outcomes. The "system" gathers all the details that make up who we are, how we live and our freedom to do so and uses it to perpetuate the hatred that we see demonstrated so much in our daily lives. 


Religion divides us into sub groups and society takes advantage of this to further prevent Christians from working with Muslims, from Spiritualist & Naturalist, Buddhists, etc. to be accepted into the melting pot/main stream culture of America. In fact, with declining numbers of citizens identifying as Christian, this is such a time where all people should be embraced. Unfortunately it is not so because even our religions have separatist ideals that not only separate us by domination or practice but also by color!


RACE does matter! It's very apparent with the Presidential candidates, with the resurgence of Civil & Social Rights Movements, race does matter. We are constantly reminded about the color of our skin. The darker your skin, the more your are exposed to prejudices,stereotypes, profiling and often times denied access due to fear of these things. The lighter your skin color, the more you are susceptible to privilege that excludes you from the struggle. 


It's our freedom of speech, our right to protest, speak out and in most cases perpetuate the hatred of a system that forces us into a box from how we are classified. A society that uses "Biblical" principals that uplifts the enslavement of persons by color; forcing the belief that one color is dominant over the other. A society that tells us that we should hate persons with different sexual preferences or religions in the name of "Biblical" principals that also press the teachings of Love. 

Be free to be you. Be proud of your heritage, culture and the way that you were designed. Embrace your freedom to choose who you want to live and how you choose to live. When you (fill in the blank) ________________________________ ,are you signing yourself over to injustice? Think about it. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Put the Phone Down!

Reading is fundamental...and not just the reads people use to take digs at someone else. One of the key things that attributes to the longevity after God/faith, love and family, is reading. Reading helps to keep your mind sharp which makes a bigger difference to how we manage physical changes of our bodies. It also keeps us alert and aware of how to keep our minds stable, active and strong. Having a strong mind is just as essential to living as having a fit body but someone this generation is missing this connection. In fact, our youth today's reading levels are lower than those of our great grandparents, many who weren't able to finish 3rd - 5th grade, but read more affluently than our youth now. 


How are you working out your mind? It's great that technology allows everything to be accessible to us but it also cripples our ability to do things. We can sit in one chair, read on our phones or devices, workout, make a phone call, send and email and fax without evening having to move or think. While this is great, sometimes it's more empowering for us to break this norm. As technology is a very valuable tool, sometimes it does too much. We have to turn it off so that we can continue to sharpen our minds. Take time to read the newspaper, pick up a magazine, read the latest journal, blog or even letters. Letter writing isn't outdated, just reform. While text and instant messaging is good, nothing beats a letter. 


Our society out-dates things and then reinvents them. One thing that will never be outdated is reading. Most errors are made when people don't take the time to read. 

#1 Take time in the mornings and evenings to read
#2 Join or start a book club with neighbors, friends 
#3 Challenge yourself to write cards and/or letters to the seniors in your family at least three times a year 
#4 Volunteer to read at a school, early learning center or summer camp 



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Control or Consumption

"We can only control us, not anything or anyone else!" My therapist shared that with me some years ago. I found this to be one of the most freeing phrases that helped me to change my way of thinking. Why worry about what others are doing when you can't control their actions? Worrying causes us to have unhealthy habits that are developed due to undesired stress that causes us to act out of character. In fact, we lose out on our investments when we worry. 
Worrying causes us to focus more attention on the problem instead of the solutions. It causes division because with problems comes blame. The blame game destroys accountability that effects productivity. This develops prejudices and blocks forgiveness. By the end of the day our minds and hearts have been darkened because we've allowed worrying about other peoples actions to take away from our light; which dampens our purpose. 

Sometimes you want to scream "you're getting on my damn nerves!" It's true, people get tired of the way others treat them. However, complaining about it, combating it, going against the grain, getting them told isn't going to fix the problem. Your reaction to chaos, confusion and poor choices from others determines who is in control. If every time someone does something and it causes your blood pressure to go, your demeanor and mood to change and make your day go sour, then it's time to press pause, reevaluate and reset. 

Know your limits! Worrying about things we can't control takes away from our success, it distracts us from our purpose and it causes us to become the very thing that has gotten on our nerves. I learned a lesson on taking the high road recently. Taking the high road isn't solely about maintaining sanity and doing the right thing. It also forces you to live by the law of Love. Unconditional means in spite of our response should be the Light that reflects to those who do or cause things that get on your nerves to see the error of their ways. Don't let your Light be overshadowed or darkened by stress that comes from worrying about things that are out of your control. In order to be in control of the situation, you have to start with knowing your limits! 



Wednesday, March 16, 2016

In and Out

The Temptations hit the nail right on the hammer with the classic hit, "Papa Was a Rollin Stone". Decades later, Papa is still rolling. The realities of instability, unfaithfulness, lack of consistency, dedication and strength needed to take care of children we bring into this Earth and the missing concept of not having to take care of the women we impregnate. 

Fatherhood and the presence of men in the home is a topic many would call "taboo" but it's needed. Society, through the media, reflects men as dominating, power hungry, sexual predators and demons all at the same time romanticizing us as the "bad boy" that everyone wants and overshadowing the good guys. There has to come a point in our existence where what we need takes priority over what we want. It can be argued that we want companionship, marriage, partnerships, etc. but it's a fact that children need fathers.  


It's true! Children without father figures are successful and many go on to have beautiful families. I'm a product of it! My parents fathers weren't in their lives but their grandparents were. Still to this day, my father serves as a father figure for the young men on our street and in our community. We have to begin to change the narrative for those without fathers; empowering them with strength to be to their families what was absent for them.


Empowerment changes the narrative, changing it from being another sad story. I don't care what myths, research, urban legends or popular culture has to day, the presence of fathers is needed for our children. If we are bad enough to lay the pipe, then we have to be man enough to build the family that comes from the work! If you aren't ready to work, wrap it up!
Sex is easy but parenting isn't. Men have to understand the power of their presence, their influence and their support. There are no excuses to knowing who your child(ren) are and neglecting to take care of them. Men shouldn't get an easy pass and women don't. It takes two! Challenge the men if your life; family, friends, neighbors, co workers,etc. to take a more active role in their child(ren) life if they don't live with them. We have to begin breaking the cycle. 

Don't assume because they don't live with them they aren't active. Don't deny men their rights to see the child(ren) because they didn't chose you. Don't walk away. Men have to stop turning away from the children they help create. Don't replace the father with inconsistent figures. Don't perpetuate the stereotype. The cycle will never end if we keep creating the same
type of men. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Family Matters

“Bridging the Gap between Community and Family Engagement”

The definition for Community Engagement refers to the process by which community benefit organizations and individuals build ongoing, permanent relationships for the purpose of applying a collective vision for the benefit of a school community.

Family Engagement can be defined as family-centered and strengths-based approach to partnering with families in making decisions, setting goals, and achieving desired academic outcomes. I want to highlight three areas to help bridge the gap between community and family engagement by providing examples, a story and strategies.

How to Build Effective Relationships:
The first standard we utilize in Family Engagement is “Welcoming All Families”. What does this mean for a District and school family engagement program? It begins with the understanding that everyone plays a part in driving this goal, not just the PIC, Parent Liaison or Title I Coordinator. Welcoming all families begins with the bus drivers, the Crossing Guards, the Front Office Staff, the morning greeters . . . this standard is a definitely a collaborative effort. When we think about welcoming all families it directly connects to building relationships. In order for our schools, faculty, staff and Family Engagement programs to be successful, we must know our target audience.

As we build relationships, it’s critically important for us to meet people where they are, have an open mind, maintain a positive outlook and be respectful of cultural difference. How can this be done? Bring your talents to the table. Parent and community groups can come together and make support signs as a school and community fundraiser showing support for education.

As we are working to build great students, schools and families, like many of us, I’ve learned that there is a gap between how communities, families and schools can effectively work together through community and family engagement. Schools can provide parents with a survey to evaluate what they need to help continue learning at home (academically, socially, culturally, and economically). The data collected from the survey will help the school build better relationships with the community, city and country resources and potential partners to meet the needs of their families.

Success Story: About three years ago, one of my former schools utilized a survey I provided to them to send out to their families at the beginning of the year. From that survey, the school discovered they had a unique population of “single dads!” Well, it’s very unique because in our society we always hear a lot about single mothers. Our Family Engagement Team came together and I helped them develop some creative ways to engage more male figures in their schools. One thing we concluded is that men like to be actively engaged. A best practice we utilized at this school was developing a Male Academic Initiative that not only met the academic needs but allowed the school to develop partnerships with teachers and partners to provide additional support i.e. mentoring, job training, volunteering, and parenting support groups. The initiative became something that not only the Family Engagement team took a part of but the school family. This allowed a deeper analysis of the survey and helped develop various ways the school could creatively meet the needs of various parent segments of the school and build academic support for the students. It’s critical important to remember that in bridging the gap between community and family engagement, we must first know the needs of our audience (families). 



Connecting Community & Family Engagement:

Here are some ways that connecting community & family engagement in your school may help to bridge the gap!

ü  Creating a Community & Family Directory to include local businesses, schools, parent group information, community support group information, city and county resources, local churches and shelters
ü  Have a Community Meet & Greet (open house) at the school for school faculty, staff and families to interact and engage with the community (residents, businesses, etc.) and showcase what the school is offering for families and what are areas the school needs support from the community
ü  Develop a Family Engagement Team at the school the connects all areas, Academics, Title I, Social Services and Community and Parent Support groups. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Assume the Position!


as·sump·tion
  1. 1.
    a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

Is it dangerous to make assumptions? Absolutely! Our assumptions lead to prejudices and stereotypes that are carried out through our decision making power. We see this daily. People make assumptions based on what they hear and see. Often times going by what someone has created. 

True or false was one of the best lessons taught in school. Helping us to reason between what'st true and what's false. The realization of fact versus opinion. All sources of media give second hand accounts of something that has happened for the simple fact that if it's not live, we aren't there to experience it first hand. Live streaming has allowed us to be able to experience something first hand through mobile devices, TV's or electronic gadgets. However, speculation and misleading titles, quotes and information also lead to people making assumptions about what, why and how something happened. Be aware! 


What do assumptions lead to? 

Judgement 
Prejudices 
Injustices 
Gossip 
Lies

It's always important to remember the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Don't make assumptions about others, because it hurts when it's done to you. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Watch What's Trending!

#Scandal #OscarsSoWhite #Trump #TravyonMartin #Election2016. . . and the list of trending topics goes on. Hashtags, like hot topics and gossip, are here today and gone tomorrow.  I don't want to be a hashtag or a trending topic.Trending topics only trend for as long as the topic is hot, but does this mean that it's not relevant. There are so many people who live to be simply a trending topic not realizing they get stuck in that moment of time. In a society were the latest happenings restrict you to the moment, we should be working to build a brand that is everlasting. 

It's a natural thing! People always want to know what's happening, what's the latest, what's going on in your life . . . you have to be in control of the message that's spoken of who you are, what you do and what your purpose is. It's amazing that people can live for years and when they pass away that's when you hear about their true life story. I've been to several funerals and see people tell stories about someone's life, experiences they shared, goals the person accomplished and family, friends and loved ones will all sit in shock, never nothing the great things the person achieved in their life. We give more attention to the intimate things of our life that we should be sharing with God. Instead we share them with strangers, people who don't even support us or think about us on social media where we should be sharing with them our life changing experiences that will inspire them to make it out of dark situations, be a little kinder, take actions against injustice or simply just to smile from knowing that goodness is still a relevant factor of life. 


People mistake privacy as privilege and not a right. Keep your business to yourself! There are certain things that you should make available to the public and some things that should be kept private. As time goes by, technology grows, more and more people seem to want to expose their personal struggles, sex life, desires, every little step they make with the world. We want "transparency" but can't handle truth. We want to know people's personal lives as if we have a right to know. This type of thinking perpetuates elitism and judgement. It creates gossip, envy and strife. If you're sick, people want to know what's wrong with you; is it Cancer, HIV, drugs, etc? If you're single, why aren't you married, are they a sex offender, rapist, gay, lesbian, etc? If you don't have kids, people want to know why, why are you divorced, why are you doing that or this? That's why it's important that people don't make their personal lives trending topics. Remember, an itchy ear comes with a running mouth. Maintain your power, don't limit yourself by giving your power away to others! 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's All About the Hustle

It's all about timing! We hear the slogans say, "just do it", "the time is now", "there's no better timing than the present", but we forget that although we may be in the moment, it may not be the moment for us. There's an art to hustling and many people miss the mark because they don't understand timing. 

That's right, HUSTLING! The same "hustle" that a coach yells out to a player during practice, the same "hustle" that parents use when they sign up for that part time job to pay for summer vacation or school. 

It's true! How you get to your next level of success is determined by what you do. If you aren't working your dream, it won't be successful. Your hustle is what gets you to the next level of your success. I come from a family of business owners, friends who own their own businesses and build brands daily. It requires a lot of work running a business, a board, a non profit, leading a project or a group. You can't be concerned with how others view your hustle when you're building your brand. You have to remain focused on making your vision become reality. 
It's not easy! Your hustle connects to your purpose and your promise. We have to get up, plan for, go out and work for what we want. Making it happen requires patience, humility, focus, drive and most important connection. Your spiritual connection is what makes the difference. There's no way to have a strong hustle and not be spiritually grounded and growing. NOT perfect, not doing everything right, but growing. The mindset of thinking you've "arrived" is what destroys your hustle. In a society where there are so many frauds, schemes, politics and traps set to taint our characters; you have to have your mind, spirit and body protected. You can't win the game if you haven't protected your assets. Remember these words; your return of investment, 100%, depends on how you work your plan (40%) and how your follow directions (60%). 


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spinning Records


The other Sunday, I listened to my Pastor, Victor Tate, make a profound statement. There are moments in our lives "that call us for to delete some things that are no longer any good for us!" Delete things that aren't purposed for where you are in life right now. Once the thing or things that weren't adding to your purpose are deleted, what do you fill the space with? The challenge isn't deleting, but filling the space with something that is meaningful to your purpose. 


Repeating the same steps while going in a new direction won't work. Deleting things is important, but don't delete the lessons learned or your reasoning for deleting in the first place. Often times, we delete things and end up repeating those same scenarios in our lives because we fill our wants first before our needs. The process of deleting requires us to prioritize, organize and reassess what's needed versus what's wanted. I want a new, brand new care but I need a car that is functioning and good on gas. We have to accept our reality so that we don't repeat the same mistakes. 

Many of us will say to ourselves, "If I take away from what I have, then I will go without!"  If you have ever gone to a club or event with a line, then this will make sense to you. When the lines are long, out the door, around the corner... two things are being done. It's creating the illusion that "hey, somethings happening here"and it's also following the process of delete and repeat. When a few people leave, others come in. Just like when we delete things in our lives. As things end or chapters close, it will require a moment of void and emptiness. In those moments of silence put on repeat "purpose", so you're reminded of what's about to be added as opposed to what's been taken away. Don't delete to repeat! Delete to build purpose.