Category Archives: Civil liberties
Madness, Tom foolery and chicanery erupted after the Presidential elections on November 8th 2016 and if it was possible, I would have spared my soul from running the gamut of emotions listening to people rail at outcomes their votes didn’t want, and then watched in morbid fascination as the blame game began.
White folks were embarrassed, people of color were miffed to hell and back and political party Leaders were stunned into shocked silence.
And then it happened. Reports started coming in about new Marginalized groups being targeted in the Jewish and LGBTQ communities and someone decided that the best way for folks to know who allies were and create solidarity, were through these safety pins that are now adorning clothing everywhere.
Black Folks went from miffed to hell no and the furious debate began.
I am Looking at all of this unfold and the only clear winners I see here are the savvy business heads who jumped And began selling safety pin necklaces for upwards of $300 because I guess, even pins need to be Leveled up several social classes in order to adorn certain necklines.
People. Please. Enough already. Let whosoever chooses to identify their affiliations through this pin, do so as they please because for me It’s a clear symbol of Privilege in a way that says should the wearers of Said pin become targets for their act of revolution, it’s a simple Matter of Removing it and blending in.
No Such luck For Folks of Color .
So while we keep being distracted by this newest movement, let is not forget to focus on what really matters- surviving these next few years.
Dueces and mad love
Friday October 7th was the premiere of the movie Birth Of A Nation and while I knew I was going to view it and psyched myself up to see what was sure to shock my senses in parts, what happened was something different. For me anyway.
That day began in an interesting manner where I had to circumvent and remind a few folks who were so entrenched in how they did things, they forgot education was about the children they purportedly served.
So I was already feeling some kinda funky from a long day filled with meetings, when I pointed my diva mobile in the general direction of the movie theater.
I had two sips of some kind of beverage and some appetizers but I was more engrossed in chatting with many of the folks who I hadn’t met before this screening and a few who knew me Well enough to be prepared for any and all Shenanigans I may spew forth.
After ALL of that preparation, I walked in and settled myself in the very back after taking a deep cleansing breath.
I would NOT be the sister who left disliking all white folks based on what I saw.
Listen. 30 minutes in? I was cringing, tears were flowing down my cheeks,
I was talking to myself and the screen, I called on Jesus more than
A few times and didn’t know IF I would make it through.
Here is what I learned- and let me be clear, you may get something totally different but our past experiences often shape what we see and feel.
I saw a man who was chosen to be a leader who was quiet, caused no trouble, did what his master told him and learned to read because the slave owners wife took an interest in him.
Lesson? Never dismiss people based on what you see. The eyes can be deceptive. Nat Turner had something within, that the outer facade belied and he was therefore trusted in places and spaces that gave him access when the time came.
There is a courage within people
Of African descent that isn’t often depicted anywhere as it serves to remind us that we matter, we are Smart, we Are Resilient and while everyone may not be on board when the time comes to act, it only requires a few to get a movement started.
Watching The constant raping of our women and children at the hands of slave masters, only for those broken women to be sent back to their men afraid, ashamed and hurt to their core, almost put me over the edge.
I also saw the courage, love and anguish of the men, who often risked their lives to protect their families the best way they could. That visual warmed my soul.
We suffered a lot as a people and it continues to present day but we also have more power and able to make choices instead of waffling in mired hurt and pain alone.
Many are called, FEW are chosen. We all have a purpose in this life and our one job is to find it and then follow.
Nat Turner and many others lost their lives
For that insurgence but it sparked a revolution that changed slavery after he died.
We MUST make it our business to learn
About our history and stop waiting for it to become
Curriculum in schools. There are too many books, not to
For that to even be an excuse any longer.
As a woman, I walk every day with the ancestry of Nanny of the Maroons from Jamaica whose blood runs through my veins. I am steeped in my culture in a way that serves as a reminder that I can and will continue to achieve with alacrity and I must serve those around me with same.
We had a discussion after the movie and I left wondering who were to two or three who would actually step beyond the emotions to spark the next movement.
There were a few Caucasian students from Arcadia university who watched the movie and I could FEEL the palpable
Discomfort coming from a couple. I walked right over to them and reminded them to not leave here feeling guilty but rather enlightened on how they could help to make this a better America for us all.
That movie shook my very core- but it did something that was so much more. It was confirmation in a way that I in particular needed.
Go see it. It’s worth every penny and the lessons are priceless.
Deuces and mad love,
Lord ha mercy. This here election season has been fraught with disbelief, anger, weariness, and yes, hilarity.
Up until 18 months ago, I was floating in the breeze of ” no politics on any of my social media pages,” and then one fateful morning, I saw what looked like June Bug from the ‘hood- you know him right? The dude that ran things with threats, and had no trouble breaking legs etc, to get his way because he owned the streets with no mercy or a conscience. That June Bug. The thing about June Bug is that he has a loyal following who swears he is the second coming of the ghetto and everything must be approved by his royal wretchedness.
This June Bug though, is running for President.
Of these here United States.
When he first hit the stage with his announcement to run, folks snickered and said he would never be taken seriously because he didn’t have a Clue and America was smart enough to see through his facade. A whole football team of men and one woman all lined up to trounce what they called June Bug the clueless thug, only to realize, much to their dismay, good old JB had a massive following that began emerging from the shadows like thirsty , over looked mummies whose leader had finally arisen. These followers became emboldened by the over-the-top JB who finally opened the gates of no-respectability and allowed the spewing of free speech like never before.
Meanwhile- strange fruit began hanging from the poplar trees across the country. Farmers began screeching that their farms matter and they were being marginalized so they can become extinct. They took to the streets in protest to fight for their rights.
IMAGE CREDT: “From the hanging tree to strange fruit”-Susanne Collins
Then there was Snarky. You know that person right? The one who feels it’s their turn to be in charge of the free world and feels they are too super qualified to be overlooked by the masses yet again. After all, snarky had put in her time and played the game and made her deals like a savvy politician should. And not to be out done, snarky is also trying to create history. The kind that would make you First Snarky, Senator Snarky , Secrteary of State Snarky and now President. So Snarky began lining up delegates that would persuaade people into being with her and touted all her wonderful accomplishments to date.
Slight problem. A good majority of folks found Snarky to be untrustworthy because of her ties to certain corporate structures, her less than stellar attitude when questioned about, well, questionable things and she has been caught in a net of lies.
Snarky had a competitor too but she wore him out with her super delegate counts despite what many among the masses asked for. What snarky wanted, snarky got and she now walks around with a perpetual smirk while working harder to connect with the commoners in her wake.
What is a beleaguered nation to do?
So here we are, less than 60 days away from choosing a new Commander In Chief, and we settle down for the first debate.
A whole stale pot of collard greens kind of mess.
June bug threatened to start wars for simple things, does random counting because his estimated wealth is so “bigly” he’s always being audited and he was smart to not pay income taxes on millions earned, while he lamented about the horrible infrastructure that NEEDS our tax dollars to work well.
He’s sniffling constantly, didn’t answer a single question appropriately and we are left to wonder What DOES he know and even better- who CARED, that had already decided he was their man to make Anerica Great again.
Snarky meanwhile, is asking JB to release his taxes as he hollers back when she releases the thousands of emails she erased, reminded her she was a bigot too for the laws passed by her husband that has led to many strange fruits in prison rotting away, and her desensitized behaviors to the farmers lives matter movement all around her until she was told, she was gonna need the strange fruit votes too..
If this hasn’t begun to sound like utter madness to you yet, the I don’t know what will. All this talk about foreign threats when the folks stateside are crying for tax relief, good health insurance, jobs, a decent way to live.
Watching that debacle of a debate only served to remind us that we are all in for a rude awakening- no matter who wins.
And then. This happened. As my friend Mr. Mann Frisby would say, “why sway?” Clearly, Snarky had no real clue who she was or just wasn’t fully moved by the what amounted to the “strange fruit spiritual” in mixed company.
Lawd, Lawdy, Lort.
Start storing those rainy day nuts now- I get the feeling between these two,it might be raining for a long time to come.
Deuces and mad love,
Today told me for certain that I have indeed found my calling in life..
I was asked to speak to a group of young people at a local high school
(That will remain nameless for now) who were suspended and a part of their plan for getting reinstated was to sit and listen to people who looked like them about what it took to be successful in life.
Oh yeah, their parents had to accompany them.
I knew I was in Oz when I got to the school and as the young people were leaving, all I heard were words not worthy of printing. I cringed inwardly with sadness but kept going and eventually found the room I was to be in.
The folks started coming in and the attitude was downright hostile. Parents arguing they don’t have time for this and some of the girls were saying things like
” we in here to listen to this Bitch? My momma going to cuss her out and we will get to leave.”
Clearly, they were in for a treat.
I waited until they settled down, pulled up a chair in the center of them, opened my mouth and laid them all out so flat, not only could you hear a pin drop, the parents were asking to be mentored along with the kids.
The Principal walked in an hour later thinking he was going to have to keep order and his mouth fell to the floor.
He said one of the toughest judges in the city walked into that school and gave up and walked out. He was shocked at what he found.
I’m going back there. Every Tuesday that I’m in town for the entire school year. Those young people needed support and they needed to know I was not the Sista to run game on..
We have got to expect more of ourselves no matter how low we may feel in life.. Everyone left respectful and said thank you after the girls asked for these sessions to keep going…
Say what now? 😜
That was by FAR, the toughest experience I ever had with young people and parents but what I know for sure is this, no matter how crazy a situation seems, if you command the respect with your presence, miracles can and will indeed happen.
I bet you not one of them will call me a bitch anymore AND they will think twice before they use it carelessly among themselves too..
It was one hell of a week so filled with pain, shock, disbelief and yes rage, as the entire country reeled in the aftermath of the shocking details about a young man, Mike Brown, who was for all intents and purposes, murdered in cold blood by a police officer in Ferguson Missouri.
Like many others, I began this mental journey filled with rage and place a picture of my sons on social media asking when did it become okay for us as parents to raise them only to have them a moving target for rogue police officers?
My anger was so searing hot, it scared me. It was then, I became clear this was not going to be another incident that people eventually forgot, because the town of Ferguson literally became the ghost of civil rights past resplendent with dogs, tear gas, armor and people so angry, they were tearing up anything in their pathway. The country responded and folks began to choose sides but I’m heartened by the volume of white allies who are right here beside us as a people because that murder finally shocked them
Into consciousness about the daily realities of black and brown people in America.
I learned a few lessons and became much clearer on other things;
The news media, depending on who they were, reported in ways that were so biased, I hardly watched any of them.
Twitter has become the mainstream of “live” reporting and gave a much more accurate description as events unfolded.
Voting in our local and State elections were always important but never more than in this present moment. It is a right we must begin to fully exercise because each voting finger adds up to change in a powerful way.
Black men and boys are still seen as 3/5 of a human being by way too many and it doesn’t matter how educated and well raised they are. Black people have always been clear that we needed to be stellar in word and deed and we have been much clearer, that means nothing to a rogue cop who will ” tell a story” too many are willing to believe even it’s 100% false.
What is happening right now in America feels like 1963 revisited because we as a people have become complacent and forgot to remind our children of our history so this could not happen to us anymore.
Strong new black leadership has begun to emerge with our millennials who understands the power of social media and are not afraid to use it to create change.
Anger, when channeled, is a powerful force and if we really desire to make lasting change, we must start in our local
Communities and work our way out in our quest for changes in policy and practices at police departments, schools, courthouses and prisons to name a few.
White allies are stepping out of the shadows in ways that is heartwarming and are a reminder that not everyone in America is filled with judgement and hate.
The ripple effect of these unchallenged murders of so many black men have begun and will be felt for a long time to come.
Because America’s ugly scab has been scraped off for the world to see and you better believe they ( world) are watching.
The revolution is televised and many are now willing to die so that we can live in peace..
I must warn you that this piece is going to be tough for more than a few people. I thought long and hard about writing it. Put fingers to keyboard and deleted. Had many conversations in my head about how to best say this and decided there was no easy way, so here we go….buckle up for the ride…
In a recent conversation with a young adult, she blurted something that I knew had to be an emotional back breaking burden because of how it all rushed out her mouth- relief co-mingled with fear by what she was about to say;
” how do I protect myself as I make a name, and brand who I am, from my mothers criminal past? I love her but she insists on following me everywhere and making public displays of my work with pride but all it takes is one person digging beneath the surface, to see her entire past pop up. It will devastate my work, the people who depend upon me and I don’t know what to do.”
Just like that, Pandora’s box opened and every fear, every emotion, every insecurity came rushing forth like she was burdened for so long and finally found a place to let it out without being judged.
This person was further hurt and confused because her mother was gone for years in federal prison and came back home as if all was well and NEVER had a serious discussion with her children about what happened. Not a solitary word.
Her children who are grown, are constantly having conversations with each other on how to best broach the topic but every day that goes by in silence and forced normalcy, has put such strain on her children, they have begun to feel and behave differently towards her with each passing day.
Befuddlement became sadness, which turned to forced acceptance which has now begun to breed silent resentment.
To be fair to this young person, a few clarifying questions were asked, which led to my asking what would be helpful for her long term. The surprising response?
She asked that I write this piece to give some parents much needed insight on just what their children were dealing with and that silence is definitely not the answer. Far too many children and parents are dealing with this issue and the consequences are life altering without doing the work that will lead to healing.
As a result, here are some helpful hints for parents who find themselves in this predicament with their children who are old enough to understand what is happening;
1). The absolute worst thing you can do, is act ” normal” and try to pick up where you left off without a word. Start the conversation gently but your children die a tiny bit with each passing day you remain silent.
2). Tell your children you are sorry you had to leave them for years. Ask and then listen, to what they had to deal with in your absence. It is often not a pretty scenario for children who may have lost the only stability they knew. They need a safe place with you to have the conversation.
3). Understand they may be mad at what you did but will always love you. No matter what. What kills their full support, is your stubborn silence.
4). Be prepared to deal with having to hear you cannot be in the limelight of their accomplishments depending on the nature of your crime. For example- if you are a registered sex offender in the system and the core of your child’s career is working with children, that can be devastating to their progress. The hope is that you will understand the need to take a less public role in their efforts, for obvious reasons.
5). Seek professional help. Your adult children should not bear the brunt of your refusal to re-engage in life and carry the burdens silently of that which you will not deal with. Above all else, try to forgive yourself. Whether you believe it or not, the strain and stress of silence takes a toll on you emotionally and physically.
6). Allow them ( children)to share their fears; the stigma that can follow adult children after a parent has committed a serious crime can be devastating on many levels. If you feel you cannot have the conversation alone with them, get a neutral facilitator in the room to get the dialogue going. That could be a therapist, Pastor or just a good trusted family friend.
Nothing was more heartbreaking to me as a mother myself, when this adult stated she felt more removed from her mother with each passing day that she remained silent and cannot have open dialogue around every day life incidences and choices. It is painful for her to sit with mom, knowing she wants to have a much needed conversation while struggling to find the opening to get it started.
She wants to discuss all the things she missed, all the things she never knew, all the things she continues to struggle with daily but cannot move beyond a crawl because of the extra emotional and physical adult she carries around in silence on her back, every day.
To the parents who have made mistakes that led to serious punishment, let me say this to you- the best thing you can do for your children is acknowledge your mistakes, ask for forgiveness ( that you already have from them) and be willing to hear what the adverse effects have been on your children. Try to love first yourself, then your offspring to a place of healing.
Love your children enough to get out of your own way and unintentionally impede their progress with your mistakes. It is the very least you can do to minimize the pain they already carry.
I do not claim to have all the answers but hope like hell, this blog touches those it needs to reach so we can begin to repair broken families.
It was a frigid 17 degrees outside the courthouse at 1801 Vine Street in Philadelphia but inside, the temperature was steadily rising as many made their way to Courtroom A.
You see, we were all awaiting the arrival Of Darrin Manning, the 16 year old honor student who had his testicles squeezed until they ruptured on January 7th by a female police officer.
That was the day,when the City had temperatures below zero and the Principal of the school, gave her basketball team scarves to wrap around their faces on their way to practice. What happened when those boys got off the subway at Broad and Girard, has yet to be fully flushed out but what we do know is this; while Darrin was in handcuffs, his testicles were squeezed. Hard. Twice.
He had to have emergency surgery and is now being watched to see if he will ever be able to father children.
So we are in the courtroom waiting area filled with common citizenry and the press but as I watched the flurry of activity for the young man, I honed in on one person; his mother.
I could feel every bit of her anguish because I lived similar circumstances with my then 15 year old who has since been exonerated and is graduating from College in 4 months.
I waited until an opportunity presented itself, walked over to her and as I shared why we were connected, the tears rolled quietly down her face.. She was relieved that there is hope, that here was another mother who understood every bit of what she was feeling.
I told her she was going to hear some untruths about her son, that she would be hurt by it all but she must try and understand that this is all a part of the process.
I also told her Darrin was the “Rosa Parks”of modern day, that the Universe chose him to bring light to a system that is terribly flawed. When I said that my sole reason for being in the room was to support HER, the tears came freely and we hugged hard, forever connected by a travesty done to our children.
I have chosen to be her voice until
She is strong enough to fully find hers. We will speak up about this until Justice is served.
One more thing; as the impromptu conference was taking place, I separated myself from the crowd and stood among the officers in plain clothes.. Some of the comments made were disgusting but two males said this: ” they have to do something about “her” in the dept. It’s not the first, second or third time she has done this and she has now gone too far.”
I walked away before they realized I was not one of them but I was at least heartened to know, amidst to storm that is brewing over Philadelphia, a few understood this; what happened to that young man was not right.
A few weeks ago in the midst of a large conference filled with 7 thousand women who glowed with the energy around us, I ran into the wife of a dear friend and mentor who I had not seen or heard from in a while. We hugged effusively and I jokingly quipped that is was lucky for me he wasn’t able to attend and torture me in his usual fashion.
You see, he has the driest sense of humour and was not above telling people among other things with not a smile on that face, he was my” Parole Officer.” Lord, I can’t count the number of stunned faces we received until he laughed and they realized he was joking. Suffice it to say, he helped shaped a few important decisions in my life over the years and holds a special place in my heart.
I was stunned when she ( wife) informed me that he needed a lung transplant and could I please check on him? In that instant, all the noise around me receded as we looked at each other, eyes brimming with tears and I could feel the gravity of what she had just imparted. My friend developed a lung disease seemingly out-of-thin-air as he was not a smoker and the doctors could find nothing environmental that he had been exposed to that would cause such a rapid deterioration of his once healthy lungs.
I called him and as usual, he began cracking jokes and making me scream over the phone, all while saying he was on oxygen a good portion of the day, he was in the beginning stages of being tested as a viable recipient for lungs so he could be placed on a waiting list and the things he learned as a direct result. So in my naiveté, I said getting lungs should not be not be more than a few years from testing to transplant to which he replied, I would be surprised.
He went on to tell me, not enough people have signed up to be organ donors for one reason or another but the numbers were astonishingly low for African Americans. He said there were a myriad of reasons, the biggest one is the fear that if they ended up on life support in the Hospital, they would be allowed to die so that their organs could be harvested. Say what now? I listened intently because this is a man who is absolutely brilliant and would not make such a claim if there was no truth to it. We got off the phone with a promise that we would stay in touch but that conversation haunted me.
In a talk with another dear friend a couple of weeks later, I mentioned this mutual friend of ours and told her what he said. Not only did she agree wholeheartedly, she made family members who had organ donor on their license remove it for that very reason. What she said was this; ” Think about how many young black males are shot daily in large cities and too often, I have heard stories from parents who felt their child was allowed to die instead of the most vigorous techniques to keep them alive being employed. If they see “Organ donor” on their identification, it is worse because they know how many lives can be saved from the harvesting of one young person.”
I sat there stunned because I have ” Organ Donor” on my license and I plan to keep it there so I can help to save lives if I can, but those two conversations, left me feeling more than a little disturbed. Then, I read an article today about a young 17 year old who died under mysterious circumstances in Atlanta Georgia and when his body was handed to the parents, his organs were replaced with tissue paper. The explanation went from the ridiculous to the sublime but it brought right back to me, those last two conversations I had.
Here is what I believe despite all the things that are floating around and some of it may very well be true; we are in desperate need of more organ donors in this Country. desperately. So many people die on waiting lists each year, month, week, day and hour. If we know our organs will help to save a life, can you please help? Chances are, you are going to live a healthy existence but if Tragedy strikes and you are not able to be among us anymore, please give the gift of life. For those among us who are illegally harvesting organs, may the law deal with them as they are caught but I implore you, do not let the actions of a few, allow so many more to die. One thing; since I am a woman of colour, when my “time” comes, be certain they have exhausted all the means to help me live then harvest the heck out of my organs. Take everything you find useful. What am I going to do with it in the ground?
Give the gift that will keep on giving long after you leave here and help to save a life or two or three. Become an Organ Donor.
I am not a fan of television so when folks around me began moaning and gnashing their teeth about this new series called “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington, it was summarily ignored until the final episode of season 1 where I saw it accidentally one Thursday evening. I was so floored by what I was watching, I decided to take another peek the following season. I was hooked like a fish to bait. Many follow it for the illicit affair between the President and The “fixer” Olivia Pope but I was fascinated by the politics behind the scenes and the levels of depravity people will go through to attain power and keep it.
Follow the bouncing red ball and take a ride with me…
There is the President who hated his father but allowed himself to be put into an arranged marriage with a woman who is considered a “blue blood” so that he could increase his chances of becoming a politician that would be taken seriously. He is placed in the path of two people who are there to be great publicists, guide him and “fix” any scandals that may surface from his past. He fell in love with one young lady on the campaign trail and that is where most of his troubles began. I never knew there were so many places in the white House to have dalliances but it clearly proved what lengths people will go through to do what ever they want.
There is the blue blood wife, who fell in love with her hubby despite the circumstances surrounding her crazy marriage and after her father-in-law raped her, decided she would keep the pregnancy and her ‘payment’ would be her spot in history sitting beside the most powerful man in the free world. She has found that was not such an easy decision as she has been running around trying to stop the relationship her husband is having in one breath, while encouraging it in another ( to keep him happy) so that he will win a second term in the white house. Are you confused yet?
There is the president’s right hand man, who happily calls himself a monster because he will got to any lengths to keep his power as the ‘king maker’ in the White house and that included putting a hit-man out to kill his lover who was about to leak a story that could destroy them all. They adopted a little black baby that I barely saw but lord knows, they need someone to comb that child’s hair.
There is the “fixer” who runs a business to help people manage their scandals. It has been indeed a profitable one for her but her private life needs some fixing of it’s own. Her daddy runs a secret organization in government that is so powerful, it takes orders from no one, including the President of the U.S. Added to her woes, she fell and bumped her head by falling in love with the President himself and cannot seem to stay away from him despite the war within her that says she shouldn’t be with this man for a million reasons. The people in her business are dangerous with secrets of their own.
The craziness of the last episode, made me write a recap here https://www.facebook.com/groups/442371479122210/permalink/777743435585011/
What you read above is enough to make you cringe each week but that is just the tip of the madness in the plot around these folks. I sat back after watching that episode a few days ago and began to really think about why do so many tune in to watch this each and every week without fail and literally have a serious dialogue for days and weeks after. It dawned on me after some soul searching:
What they are watching allows them to not focus, at least for a few hours on their own lives such that it is and makes them feel their level of ‘hell ‘ is nothing compared to what they are seeing. Let’s face it, life is never how we fully portray it on social media. No one in their right mind, would let all their baggage hang out for the world to see and they shouldn’t.
In the limited scope that is called my life, I see things like long-term friendships ending badly, people who are smiling and making a life in what they know are really bad relationships, others who are struggling with their families and childhoods that would make you fall to your knees in tears, The Public Education system imploding as each school district hold tightly to their corner of the universe, Politicians, Pastors and Police officers making deals and doing things in secret that is seeping through their tightly woven shrouds of confidentiality as the public gets tired of being abused in a system they trusted and the list goes on. It is called in simple terms, the human condition but for one hour every Thursday evening, I get to watch in morbid fascination, a show that emulates real- life more than many are willing to admit, and forget just for 60 minutes, the real scandal of it all called our daily lives……
With that thought in mind, seek with intention, the things you can be grateful for, enjoy the simplicity of life( like the hug my 21 year old dispensed upon me with no provocation on my part) and if all else fails, be thankful for being able to take one breath at a time. Just above the clouds of darkness is light; breathe long enough to see it break through and when it hits your face, enjoy it for life will eventually bring you to a place of test again. Fortify yourself in the good times and when you find it difficult to breathe, go ahead and lose yourself in the show that reminds us that things can ALWAYS be worse..
November 1st, was the tenth anniversary of the Pennsylvania Women’s conference and when I walked into the PA Convention Center, I was blown away to see this:
SEVEN THOUSAND WOMEN…… and it was a powerful sight indeed…
The air was charged with anticipation and it warmed my heart to see so many women of so many backgrounds in one place. One could hear squeals of delight when an old friend or respected colleague was spotted among the throng and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, it would be day where all of us got along beautifully united in our passions.
I was super thrilled because this is the place where our Damsels In Success , other wise known as the DIS women, congregate in one venue and at least one of us had something exciting that we wanted to celebrate. This year, it was LuAnn Cahn, who is a reporter extraordinaire for NBC 10 news and she had a book called ” I Dare Me”. Simply put, LuAnn, tried something new everyday for a year and chronicled it for us all to see. We are all behind her in full support but in the meantime, we were looking forward to the fabulous Speakers which included Judge Hatchet, and Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright who was such a lesson in working your way to the top. Ms. Albright reminded us that as women we need to support each other and spoke of the lessons she learned while in her position and breaking barriers everywhere.
We sat in sessions where we were reminded that life truly is a journey, we must go through the process, there is NO short cut to success, embrace mistakes and the list went on. Oh what joy we had meeting all these women but let me tell you, as we ate our lunch in anticipation of hearing our Keynote Hillary Rodham Clinton, we had no idea that our collective minds were going to be blown by another woman, a virtual “unknown” unless you lived in Philadelphia.
Linda Cliatt- Wayman
What is so special about this beautiful soul you ask? She is the brave warrior who is the Principal of Strawberry Mansion High School, famously known as one of the most dangerous places to learn in Philadelphia. We all saw Strawberry Mansion on a Diane Sawyer special a few months ago, where Linda was seen roaming the halls, breaking up horrible fights, bringing a level of calm to really tense situations and ending every day with these words to her students; ” If no one told you they loved you today, remember I DO.”
Linda was able to create a sense of family for her charges and she often had to do it with tough love. Watching her on the many screens scattered throughout the Convention Center, moved us but nothing compared to what happened when Linda walked on that stage and saw every single person standing and saluting her for what that she had done for a community that was all but left to die in darkness.
She stood there with utter shock on her face and we could see her whispering ” thank you Jesus” over and over again as the tears fell. She was not the only one crying. I looked around and so many of us were wiping away tears but feeling something else; a surge of energy to step way outside our comfort zones without judgement, to help those that are in need of our guidance and power.
Linda reminded me that I had become complacent and it was truly time to focus on what was right instead of what was comfortable. Movement does not happen in our “safe” spaces. It propels us forward when we challenge the very things that our souls scream are not right around us. Too many of us can move mountains but are content to sit atop our molehills. Linda set the ants free from that perch we loved and reminded us what was truly important as we moved forward to changing the world around us one cause, one child, one sick person at a time.
As she was finishing her trail blazing speech, she confessed to being astounded that she was asked to speak to 7 thousand women and to share a stage with none other that Hillary Rodham Clinton. All she was trying to do was help the children. She is an excellent reminder that when things are done without expecting a spotlight of gratitude, the Universe will find unfathomable ways to reward your efforts.
When that proud lioness walked off the stage, she left behind a room that was forever changed and one could feel the buzz around what could be done to support her and the school.
Even better? She left 7 thousand women with the double dose of power they needed to keep moving, one step at a time into creating a better world.