A Study in Tenacity: My Son, the Graduate

With degree
My Son with his Degree from Emory University in Atlanta Georgia
When he left for college…

We prayed for him.

We encouraged him.

We guided him.

We supported him.

We cheered for him.

We consoled him.

We pushed him.

We pulled him.

We LOVED him…

But the one thing that we could not do was go to school for him.

 

Nevertheless, we did all that we could.

And now…

After enduring any number of set backs, this young man soldiered on and did the DAMN thang!

He NEVER gave up!

And we expected nothing less.

So, please join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of my beloved son.

First, a word about his alma mater, Emory University.

Emory is a private university, nestled within the tony Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, GA–actually it’s more so Decatur but anyway….. 🙂

The University was ranked by The Wall Street Journal as number 17 of 500 US national private and public universities.

It is the only University in Georgia to make the top 20.

Some notable alumni include, Robert W. Woodruff of Coca-Cola fame.  In fact, Mr. Woodruff’s family and charitable foundation remain huge supporters of the University.

Other notable alumni include:

Dr. Bernice King (Daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Robert Jones (Professional Golfer and Father of The Masters Golf Tournament)

Kenneth Cole (Famous Designer)

Notable Faculty include:

39th U.S. President, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter, Jr.

19th U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

It is also important to note that Emory University Hospital accepted and cared for American physician and Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly back in 2014.

So….

I’d say, this kid was in good company huh?

But seriously, I am so proud of my sweet boy—now young man!

That said, we don’t get to celebrate the accomplishments of African-American men very often, so please indulge me as I do that here.

Here is a short video and a collage of pics.

First, a 30 second video of the Graduation Processional.

The music was provided by Atlanta Pipe Band.

Bag Pipes!  YAAAAAYYY!!!

 

Additional program music was provided by The Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet.

 

 

Mama loves you Rod!  And in the words of the great Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss, “Oh the places you’ll go!”

Oh the places

Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.  Please be sure to comment and offer any words of advice to my son as he starts a new chapter in his life!

Love and light to you all!

Lady G

😘💋

 

 

 

 

Fifty Shades of Black

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Mama (Eva) holding Tack, that’s me on the right with my mouth wide open!

 

Random Woman:  Hey Brenda!

Brenda:  Hey girl, how are you?  I haven’t seen you in some years!

Random Woman: I know!  It’s been a long time.

Brenda:  Yes it has, by the way, let me introduce you to my friend, Eva.

Random Woman:  (Very dry, cold and nonchalant) Hey Eva.

Random Woman: (Directly addressing Brenda) Ooh Brenda, your little girl is so pretty, how old is she?

Eva: (PISSED) That’s MY child!

Random Woman: (Slightly Embarrassed but still chilly) Oh, I’m sorry, she just looks more like Brenda to me.

Eva walks off with child (ME) in tow.

Yes friends, my mother, Queen Diva Lady Eva, was tee’d off!

Why, you ask?

Because ‘Ms. Random Woman’ assumed that I was Brenda’s daughter based solely on the fact that we shared the same skin complexion.

She never thought for a moment that I could belong to my mother–who was a shade or two darker.

It simply didn’t occur to her to ask.

Sadly, this type of attitude was nothing new to Mama.  As a child, she had received whippings from a lighter skinned uncle for being “too black.”

Colorism 
col·or·ism
ˈkələrˌizəm/

noun

Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group–Oxford Dictionaries
What the Oxford folks failed to mention is that this phenomenon is a ‘carry-over’ of Slavery; having been birthed from the actions of slave owners.
In essence, slave masters created division among their chattel by treating them differently based on skin complexion.
The darker slaves were treated far worse than the lighter slaves.  Because of their color, dark skinned men and women were forced to engage in heavy labor while the lighter skinned slaves were treated better–relatively speaking.
Naturally, the lighter skinned slaves were told that they were superior to their melanin rich brothers and sisters and both groups bought into that belief.
And there we have it!
A lifelong mutual animosity between darker slaves and lighter slaves…which sadly continues with their descendants today–albeit to a much lesser degree.
Come now!
Let’s re-evaluate the scenario that I offered at the beginning of this post.
Notice how dismissive Ms. Random Woman was toward my mother.
She all but ignored her darker skinned ‘sister.’
‘Ms. Random’ never imagined that chocolate Ms. Eva could be the mother of a caramel colored daughter with long pony tails.
Of course, at the age of 3, I was too young to notice or understand the larger implications of this woman’s attitude.
I had no clue what was really going on.
Little did I know, I would continue to experience some form of this lunacy throughout my life as my father’s racial identity was, to the average onlooker, perplexing… to say the least 🙂
Lord, I got all kinds of questions like, “Is your Dad Mexican?”

Puerto Rican?

Cuban?

Arab?

West Indian?

East Indian?

Native American?

And everything in between….

Oh, and then there were the really stupid questions like:

How did your Mom get a handsome man like your Dad?

Ok, that’s when I got rowdy!

All bets were off!

Seriously?  What do you mean?

Do you not realize that you’re talking about MY MOTHER?

You better back the hell up!

I’m sorry guys but that mess really got under my skin!

Oh and if you think things got better as years passed…

Think again!

My Mama often recalled a time when an associate of my Dad’s came by to borrow a drill.

Apparently, he peeked past my Mom, who had answered the door, in order to get a better glance at me and whispered, “That must be Jim’s daughter.”

Mama said, “Yes, and she’s my daughter and we have a son too!”

What an idiotic thing to say!

“That must be Jim’s daughter.”

It rolled right off his ignorant ass tongue without a bit of thought attached to it.

The fact that he knew that my parents had been married for 100 years added insult to injury!

Ah…but here’s an even more egregious example.

One day, back in 2012, I had been sitting in the hospital room with Mama for most of the morning.

Well, this black nurse, who had been in and out, and who had seem me sitting there the whole time, asked, “Has any of her family come by yet?”

What the hell do I look like?

Chopped liver?

Of course I didn’t say THAT but I did say, “Well I’m her daugther.”

Naturally, the nurse apologized.

I thought to myself….Here we go again…after all this time.

Still dealing with issues of color.

Mama caught hell for being too dark and Daddy caught hell for being too racially ambiguous.

Good grief!

 

 

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Daddy and Mama at about age 15

 

Inspiration for this post came from comments between myself and these great bloggers:

Kelley at Gray Suede

Dr. K. E. Garland

Ron Brown 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackie

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“Blackie” the dog

 

Ok, let me hang on to my integrity by admitting that I never learned the dog’s real name.

That said, he will forever be known to me as “Blackie.”

Anyway, many long years ago, when I was about six or seven, Mama would take me to my bus-stop every morning to catch the bus for school.  Honestly, the stop was very close to where I lived—but it was at the top of a rather steep hill.  Mama thought it would be better if she drove me to the stop in the mornings; that way I could start my school day looking nice, fresh and clean.

She said, “I’ll take you in the mornings so you won’t have to go to school all sweaty– looking like a field hand.”

And with that, a deal was made, Mama would drive me to the bus-stop in the mornings but I would walk back home each afternoon.

Well, the first couple of days, my walk from the bus-stop was rather enjoyable; I liked the independence of it all.  Besides, I didn’t have far to go and it was completely downhill.  This was going to be a breeze! No problems!

The deal between me and Mama worked out fine!

Until it didn’t.

Enter “problems!”

One day, as I was making my usual trek home, I came upon a little black dog who started barking at me from a yard across the street.  Naturally, this startled me since I had never seen him before.  At any rate, although I was startled, I was not afraid because I had been raised in a home with all kinds of dogs. In fact, my Dad rescued and trained hunting dogs. That said, a barking dog was a non-issue to me.

By the way, you can read more about me, daddy and our dogs here.

Anyway, as I was saying, I wasn’t scared, but I was on guard so I did my best to quietly walk past the dog’s ‘dominion.’

When I got home, I didn’t mention this to Mama, because, after all, apart from all the loud barking, the dog had kept his distance.

Until he didn’t.

The next day, after I got off the bus and commenced to walk home, I noticed that same little black dog in his yard barking like he was one of my Doberman Pinschers.  Again, I was startled but not too concerned so I just looked straight ahead–kept my stride and walked past.

Friends, the next thing I knew, that little joker had crossed over to my side of the street and had begun biting at my heels!

And we were off!

Me and the dog–both ‘flying’ down that hill like two bats out of hell!

Y’all I was in a race for my life!  In fact, I was sprinting so fast that I could barely stop myself!

You may recall that I was coming down a steep hill.  A steep hill that, by the way, ran perpendicular to a busy thoroughfare.

Had I kept running, I might have crossed directly into the path of several cars.

Good thing I was able to stop and catch myself!

Needless to say, by the time I stopped, I was totally breathless and scared out of my wits!

When I looked down, I noticed that the little black dog (whom I later named “Blackie”) had already turned around and was making his way back home.

Enter Mama!

After somewhat gaining my composure, I walked the last few yards home.  Mama was standing there as I entered the house through the kitchen.

Having noticed how disheveled and discombobulated I was, she asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

I said, between wheezes, “A dog chased me home!”

Mama asked, “What dog? Where?”

I said, “Up Wycliffe Street.”

Mama said, “Come on let’s go!”

And with that, me, Tack and Mama jumped in the car!

Mama drove up Wycliffe and said, “Show me the house!”

I pointed to “Blackie’s” house.

Mama pulled up into Blackie’s yard, parked and said, “Y’all wait right here!”

Folks, Mama got out of the car, strutted up to the front door and started knocking like she was the Chief of POLICE!

Within a minute or so, a man came to the door and said, “Can I help you ma’am?”

Mama spotted Blackie standing behind the man and said, “Your dog chased my daughter home.  She almost ran into traffic! Now look, she gon’ have to walk down this hill everyday after school so you gon’ have to keep that dog in the house!”

The man said, “Ma’am I’m so sorry about that.  I’ll make sure he stays inside when your little daughter comes by.”

Mama thanked the man, bid him a fond farewell, got back in the car and drove us home.

The next day when I passed “Blackie’s” house I noticed that he was not in the yard barking but he was peering at me through his front window.

I imagined him saying, “You so lucky I ain’t outside!”

LOL!

All jokes aside, Mama was bold!  You have to remember, this all took place in Georgia in the early 1970’s and “Blackie’s” owner was an older White man.  At that time, most places in the South were newly integrated so Mama, who was only about 29,  was gambling with her life when she decided to approach that man about his dog.

But, as they say, don’t mess with a Mama bear’s cubs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…Black…Black…

 

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A real life dialogue from 1990 between two young co-workers.  

One Black and One White.

 

Me:  “Hey Teri!  How are your classes coming this quarter?”

Teri:  “Hey Gwin!  They’re coming along OK.”

Me:  “Are you making any new friends?”

Teri:  “Well, yes…but, to be honest,  I’ve noticed that the Black students in my classes aren’t really friendly and they only talk to each other.”

Me:  “Well have you tried starting a conversation with any of ’em?”

Teri:  “Well, no… I mean, I’m not used to being around Black people so I wouldn’t know what to say.”

Me:  “Teri, you’re forgetting something…in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m Black and we talk all the time.”

Teri:  “Gwin, that’s different, you’re Black but you’re not Black Black.

Me:  What?  What do you mean I’m not Black Black?”

Teri:  “See… now you’re trying to make me feel bad, I’m just saying that you’re not like most Black people.”

Me:  “Come on Teri didn’t you just say that you’re not used to being around Black people?  So how do you know how most Black people are?”

Teri:  “Gwin, please don’t get mad.  You’ve been a very good friend to me and the last thing I would want to do is offend you so let’s just drop the subject, I’m sorry.”

Me:  “I accept Teri and I agree; we probably need to move on and start talking about something else.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Jesus Are You Talking About?

pray-1359099_1280

 

I know this lady who was raised in a very depraved environment.  She, her mother and her siblings were treated as if they were the private property of her ‘father.’

This young lady had been worked, raped and nearly beaten to death.  She was not allowed to go to school so she never learned to read.

Throughout her teen years, her ‘father,’ who had been her main abuser, gave his friends permission to violate her in any number of ways.  As a result, she gave birth to six children; each with a different man. Her father sent several of the children away because he said that it wasn’t his responsibility to feed them.

Sadly, the young lady was never told of their whereabouts. Before long, she and her remaining children suffered the same fate.

This young lady, who had nothing but the clothes on her back and three children in tow, did the best that she could to keep her family alive.  However, she found that she was unable to suppress the urge to imitate her abusers. She frequently beat her children mercilessly.  She sometimes neglected them and oftentimes withheld love and affection.

No doubt, she had begun to recreate a home environment that was not unlike the one that she had been born into.

Unfortunately, the other day, I learned that her 14 year old daughter is pregnant.

Frankly, I am disappointed, but not surprised.

Anyway, recently, I stumbled across a man on TV sporting a T-shirt with the graphic “One nation under God” yelling, “It’s not my responsiblity to 
.”

Frankly, my friends, I couldn’t be bothered with listening to the details of his diatribe but I can tell you that I’ve seen just about ten thousand variations of this same hypocrite complaining that it’s not his/her responsiblity to help:

The poor

The hungry

The abused

The uneducated

The elderly

The children

The immigrants

The sick

The injured

The underrepresented

And the freaking list goes on!

I promise you, I wanted to jump through that TV screen and yell the following:

Dude!  I implore you to take that T-shirt off because you are doing God a huge disservice!  Please just stop it!  And another thing, go read that Bible that you, no doubt, have ignored.  Pay particular attention to the words that Jesus said!  As cousin Ron teaches, “Read the red!”  (Remember, in some versions of the bible, red words are used to denote things that Jesus actually said.)

Now, dude, after you’re finished doing that , ask yourself WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

Here’s a hint, if you get any answer other than help those who are in need then I have to ask, “What Jesus are you talking about?”

End of Rant!

Ok so don’t get me wrong, I get the concept of self sufficiency, but everybody who has ever achieved any amount of success has had some amount of help from somebody!  You better believe Donald Trump’s pappy helped him to attain financial success.

Remember, one can only pull himself up by the bootstraps if he has BOOTS!

America, the world is watching!

So what is we gon’ do y’all?

Lady G is now stepping down from the soap box!

Congratulations Ron!

 

IMG_62391
Ron at Graduation with sons Aaron (L) and Adam (R)

As I mentioned in a previous post, Ron graduated college about a week ago.  Our whole family is so proud of him.

As for me, I am so lucky to have been born into the same family as this highly intelligent, wise, talented and beautiful man.  Yes, we are connected by blood, (My dad and his mom are siblings) but in my mind, it goes much deeper than that.  Frankly, I believe that Ron is one of my closest soul mates.

Ok, so let me stop you right now before you start yelling incest!

Check out the following description of soul mates:

“…A soul mate is like the echo of oneself in Matter working at the same task to fulfill a blueprint for God.” – Elizabeth Clare Prophet

Friends, I pray that we both will continue working together to do just that.

Anyway, Ron won’t like it if I get too sappy so I’d better quit while I am ahead!  However, I would like to share this text that I sent him on the day of his graduation:

photo

Thanks for reading this guys and I am so happy that I am able to share my cousin Ron with all of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Shoutout: Motivation

Rod 2 image

 

Today’s Sunday shoutout is about MOTIVATION!

Summer is coming!  Time to shape up!  Forget aesthetics, I’m talking about wellness!  OK, we can’t completely forget aesthetics; we’ll just make it secondary to health 🙂

My friends, this dude right here is all about trying to help folks like me and you establish a healthier way of living.  As an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, I would venture to say that he probably knows what he’s talking about.  The fact that he is also a Biology major at a prestigious American University doesn’t hurt either.

If you want to learn more about establishing and maintaining a healthier lifestyle why don’t you check him out.  You can find him here.

Side note: This young man and I once shared a body about twenty something years ago, I did ALL the work and he just chilled!  LOL! He was my first major assignment in life and by all accounts it looks like I got an A+ !

Mama loves you man!

Did I do a good job son?

😉

❀

 

That’s What I’m Talking About!

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One of the goals of my blog is to share stories, ideas, information and concepts that I hope will edify my readers.  Bearing this in mind, I decided to share a story that I read on CNN.com about a police officer who engaged in a bit of goodwill by shooting hoops with some young men.  Believe it or not, the officer was present because someone had reported these kids for playing a noisy game of “street” basketball.

Say what?
Yeah, you read it right!
Anyway, the unexpected response from the officer, which was captured on this video, went viral.
Now, if you have any knowledge of law enforcement, you already know that this so called “basketball cop” was engaging in a bit of “community policing.”  If you are new to the concept, think of it this way, to get respect, you need to give respect.  Cops who practice this style of policing invest in the community by taking time to get to know the people that they are sworn to serve.
In essence, mutual respect between the officer and the community makes for a safer environment for all!
Listen, I have no misgivings about the dangers that law enforcement officers face.  I say this with confidence because both my father and my brother have worked in this capacity. Trust me when I tell you, it is no fun worrying that something tragic might happen to your loved one while he or she attempts to “protect and serve.”  By the same token, I am also acutely aware of the dangers that many individuals face when they are approached by a hot headed law enforcement officer.
Y’all, all I’m saying is that  law enforcement agencies would do well to drop adversarial approaches and pick up “community policing” techniques.
I think that this video helps to prove that point 🙂

Can’t Tell by Looking!

picjumbo.com_HNCK1089
Photo by Viktor Hanacek

 

When I was a kid my friends and I loved going to the ‘rich neighborhood’ to look at beautiful houses with large picture windows.  I recall peering through those windows and imagining cheerful wives preparing world class dinners for their handsome husbands.

In my mind, the families who lived there had no troubles or worries; just pounds and pounds of pleasure!

After admiring the houses in the ‘rich neighborhood,’ my friends and I would sometimes take a short-cut through ‘the hood’ to get home.

If you don’t know what ‘the hood’ is, go google ‘hood’ images and rejoin me after you have had time to review the results.

At any rate, ‘the hood’ that I am speaking of was exactly two left turns from the tony neighborhood with the big picture windows.

Uh oh, you seem surprised by the proximity of these two polar opposite realms?  Don’t be! Believe it or not, my friend Gloria swears that you can always find ‘the hood’ by taking two right turns from any wealthy district.

While I have no way of verifying that this is always the case, it was certainly the case in this story.

Anyway, let’s just say that ‘the hood’ was—DIFFERENT.  There I saw frazzled wives asking their dog-tired husbands for a dollar or two. Clearly, this scene was not at all like the one I imagined as I walked through the ‘rich neighborhood.’

Sorry, friends, it had not yet occurred to me that I was comparing real situations to imaginary scenarios. At any rate, in my childish mind, it was clear that in ‘the hood’ there was mostly trouble, big worries and nothing much to be pleased about.

Sadly, after years of conducting this side by side comparison of rich and not so rich, I had come to the misguided conclusion that if you wanted to be happy, ALL you needed was a lot of money and that was all there was to that!

Yeah, like many Americans, I bought into THAT delusion.

Anyhow, as fate would have it, several years later, I ended up attending a high school that had a very diverse socioeconomic population.

If you had surveyed our school’s student parking lot you would have found Jaguars, Mercedes, Buicks, Nissans, Hoopties and everything in between.

Of course, there were also students who came from families who had no car at all.

I used to joke that some of my friend’s parents owned the factory, some managed the factory, some worked at the factory and some couldn’t get hired at the factory!

Laugh if you want to, I am being very serious!

Getting back to the point, as a popular cheerleader, I easily made friends with folks from every economic class and, as a result, I soon learned that many of my ‘rich’ friend’s parents were drunk and fighting and my ‘poor’ friend’s parents were truly enjoying each other’s company (and vice versa).

In short, I learned that you cannot calculate the happiness factor of a family by looking at their bank statement (that’s if they have a bank) or by any other outward measure.

In addition, it finally dawned on me that the ‘cheerful wives’ that I imagined as a child in the rich neighborhood could have been dealing with bankruptcy and physical abuse while the ‘frazzled wives’ that I saw in the hood could have been enjoying relatively happy marital relationships.

So here is the takeaway:  Do not make judgments based on exteriors; people are much too complex for that.

Also, do not attach peace, happiness, joy, anger, sadness and pain to financial status. If you do, you will end up leading a very confused life.

Be aware that these feelings are always in a state of flux- and they will take turns grabbing hold of you from time to time regardless of your socioeconomic, ethnic, or educational background.

Your job is to enjoy the good times and find a healthy way to manage the hard times.

Now, detach thyself from all of that mess and go get thine life!

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Rushing To Do What?

SUV pic
Not the actual offender, but a close approximation!

Have you ever wondered where the nut that almost hit your car after speeding in and out of interstate lanes is rushing to?  Surely, he or she needs to get someplace in short order-right?  I mean, maybe this person has received an extremely distressing telephone call.  Maybe he or she is a physician on the way to an emergency.  Maybe this person is trying to seek medical attention for himself or a family member.  Or maybe
.NOT!

This weekend, I had the opportunity to get an up-close answer to these questions.  Do you wanna read about it? I am sure that you are now on the edge of your seat!  I’ll try not to disappoint— so here we go!

This past Saturday, while driving on a busy thoroughfare, I noticed a huge black tank of an SUV speeding up behind me.  This behemoth was moving so fast that I thought it was going to slam right into me.  Fortunately, the driver didn’t hit me, but he did tailgate me for a while before swerving left into the passing lane.  Needless to say, the motorist at the helm of that intimidating monstrosity continued barreling down the highway- darting in and out of traffic with very little room between cars to spare.  I thought to myself, surely something urgent must have happened.  Little did I know, I was about to witness the end result of all of this hurried insanity.

After traveling another mile or so, I exited the interstate in order to stop by my favorite bookstore to grab a cup of coffee and to look for a new book.  As I was parking, I noticed that the same black SUV that had nearly hit me on the interstate was parked in a nearby parking lot!  How do I know that it was the same truck?  Because this truck had several distinct decals, stickers of stick people, stick dogs, stick cats, memorial notices and ornate monograms plastered on the back window.  If you had seen it, I promise that you would have remembered it too.  Anyway, since I could see the driver’s shadow as he or she sat in the truck, I decided to wait a few minutes to spy.  Before too long, a very slender lady dressed in workout gear emerged from the truck and walked toward the bookstore where I had planned to go.  I ramped up my game of espionage by quietly following her.  After entering the store, I watched closely as she ordered a cup of coffee–savored it, browsed through a few magazines and lingered near a bookshelf.  My dearest friends, I can assure you that there was NOTHING hurried about this woman’s actions.  In fact, she looked quite relaxed.

Which brings me to this question, what was her rush? Why was she trying to mow down every car on the interstate?  I am asking you these questions because I got nothing!

After this little mini-drama ended, I decided to make a concerted effort to question myself whenever I start to rush.  I vow to ask myself questions like:  Why are you rushing?  Are you late for something?  Even if you are late, what is the worst that can happen?  By doing this, I hope to avoid creating a sense of urgency where there is none.  Sadly, it appears that the lady in the bookstore was rushing to relax; which seems sort of contradictory.  Don’t you think?

What are you rushing to do?