Thursday, July 30, 2020

Racism, America, and A Black Woman Traveling Alone

Williamsburgh, Virginia
Williamsburg, Virginia

On one of my FB post, a white friend stated that she is “afraid” of Black men whom she do not know, and I’ve thought about that comment a lot. I kinda understand her fear, but I think it is unfounded. Most Black men know what will happen if they are even accused of doing anything to a white lady, and therefore, I think that most white women have nothing to worry about. We all saw what happened to the Black birdwatcher in Central Park, and we all know how wrong that whole scenario could have gone. Thankfully, there are phones that record. And, I have not researched it or anything, but I have not heard of a case where a Black man has done anything harmful to a white woman. I think that would probably be breaking news. So, white ladies, I think y'all can relax some.

However, let me tell you about My fear that is not unfounded based on the history of this country. Historically, white folks have been able to do some awful things to Black folks and walk away. And, when I travel alone to places where there may not be other Black people or just a few other Black people, I am always mindful that I could possibly be entering into an environment that is unsafe.

Recently, I went on a small getaway about two hours away from my home to historical Williamsburg, Virginia. I needed to getaway, and I wanted to do it alone.

Let’s talk about alone. I absolutely love being around people, but I recharge by being alone. And, based on me needing to be alone to recharge, that would mean that I am an introvert. But, because I do not do labels and all that comes with them, I generally ignore them. I am who I am, PERIOD, and I NEED time alone!

I have been to Williamsburg before, and I do not remember seeing many Black people there. So, I went to Williamsburg happily but reluctantly. Williamsburg and the surrounding areas are so beautiful, but I was thinking about racism, and I did not want to end up dead or missing. It is hard to determine by looking at white folks if they are blatantly racist or not, so I have to go by how they treat me and my keen racism radar.

When I arrived at the hotel, the manager who checked me in was Black, and I breathed a sigh of relief; I thought that I may be more safe with a Black person working the front desk. I told him of my concerns of being a Black woman traveling alone, and he assured me that I would be safe. 

I also asked the manager about cycling in Williamsburg, and he assured me that I had nothing to worry about. I had never cycled in Williamsburg before and definitely never alone. Throughout breakfast I was thinking about cycling while Black, alone, in the backwoods of Virginia. I thought about what my sister, Tracy, states often: "Brave women do it afraid.” So, I got on my bike and headed towards Jamestown. I was literally by myself on those roads, and when a car would pass, my heart would flutter, and I would think “I hope that the folks in the car are not racist whites who will run me over, call me names, or do something else dreadful to me.” I even passed a few cyclist who were all white, and they all gave me friendly waves and that helped to ease my anxiety as well. My puffy hair was sticking out from my helmet, and my skin is definitely dark enough where folks can tell I am Black, Sooooooo.... Lucky for me, I didn't get those racist vibes that I sometimes get, and I was able to relax some. 

Eventually, I ended up at Jamestown Island and decided to ride it. However, some parts of the island are secluded, but I thought “Brave women do it afraid.” I saw a few other cyclists, walkers, and folks in cars, and they all gave me friendly looks and waves, and that helped to ease my anxiety. 

Near the end of my ride, I saw a sign for a sunset cruise. I desired to take the cruise, but I am a Black woman traveling alone around mostly white people. I cycled by the port, and lo and behold, there was a Black man on the boat. I told him about my reluctancy to take the boat ride being that I might be the only Black person on the boat, and I did not want to end up at the bottom of the James River. He assured me that he would be the captain and that I would be alright. I bought the ticket and took the sunset boat ride. The Black captain was on the boat as well as the Black man who provided the entertainment, and I was able to relax and enjoy the ride. 

So, I had a good first day and was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the trip.

Is this how I feel often? YES......

When driving at night, I think, "If a cop stops me, am I going to pull over, or drive to the closest store then stop, or put on my hazards and drive to the closest store and then stop, or.... just not drive at night?

Fight or Flight... is pretty much where I dwell until I determine, through observations, conversations, and my racism radar if I can relax. 

So, when I hear a white woman state that she is afraid of Black men whom she do not know.... I always think if only she could be a Black woman trying to thrive in America constantly worrying about "Karen" calling the police on me for looking suspicious, with white folks looking at me like "why are you here?" and with white men in pickup trucks causing me much concern etc. 

Are my fears unfounded? 

NAH!!!

Sandra Bland
George Floyd
Trayvon Martin
Ahmaud Arbery
Breonna Taylor
Michael Brown.......

Just to name a few! 
 


Sunday, April 26, 2020

NINE Years.....


Daily workout spot

Y’all, we are in a global pandemic. A REAL GLOBAL PANDEMIC! I am not writing this for you, my Dear Reader. I know that you know that we are in a pandemic, because almost every single person on this planet life has been impacted by this pandemic. But, I am writing this for the person who finds this blog 100 years from now. Yep, we are definitely in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, AND

Today, is the 9th Anniversary of me working out the greatest personal trainer in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, Berhane.

Pre-Pandemic when folks could breathe on each other. 

March 16th, 2020 was the first Monday that I did not have to go to work. So, I got up like I always do and got on the elliptical before I ate breakfast. (Berhane advised me to do thirty minutes of light to medium cardio before I eat every morning: FAT BURNING AND MOOD ADJUSTING.) Then I tried to create some normalcy by reading, walking, not quite eating on a schedule, and reaching out to folks.

However, the next day, the gym in my building was closed, and so I started walking four to five miles with my neighbor, and then I would eat my breakfast when I got back home. However, I was noticing that I was not getting that boost of energy from walking. I would come home tired but not necessarily energized.

I talked to Berhane, and he reminded me that NOW is the perfect time to work on my health. He told me that I needed to start back doing thirty minutes before breakfast to get my heart rate up, and then I could walk. He reminded me that there was nothing wrong with me walking, but I needed to remember that walking is mainly for me to clear my mind and be outside. Walking was not causing my heart rate to go up the way that it needed to in order to burn fat and boost my mood. Also, he wanted to know about my diet, and I sort of told him about how I was NOT necessarily on my regular eating routine, and he sent me a new meal plan to follow. (YIKES!)

I am definitely no expert on how to get through a PANDEMIC, but as for me and my house, being discipline and on a routine has help me to stay sane in a really insane situation. We are in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC!!



Every, single, weekday morning I get up around 6:45 put on my coffee and watch Good Morning American until around 9. Between 9 and 11, I get on my stationary bike and I listen to a podcast. (Y’all there are soooo many good podcast out there.) Then, I cook and eat my breakfast, shower, read, do things for my job, I may go for a walk, I take naps, I cycle outside for hours when the weather permits, I read more, I may watch something on TV, AND I do weights two times a week like always. On the weekends, I sleep a little later, but everything else on my routine stays the same....AND, I feel happy, strong, healthier, purposeful.....

I do miss happy hours, and book club meetings, and book festivals, and bike rides with other folks, BUT, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

It has been nine years of working out with Berhane, and if nothing else, he has confirmed and reconfirmed, even during a GOLBAL PANDEMIC, the power of being disciplined if we want to see lasting changes.

Not sure how other folks are coping, but I am praying that everyone finds something that works until we get to the other side.

PEACE AND LOVE!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Grateful Post, because I Need To Be Reminded.....



This time of year, when the days are short, and I get into my winter routine of going to work, working out, and sprinkling in a few author talks, concerts, sporting events, and time with friends, this can feel sort of like hearing someone beating a drum, with the same cadence, over and over again. So, I need to remind myself that I have lots to be excited about such as....

My hair. I love my natural hair; it is my Pride and Joy. My Crown and Glory. I love when I wash it, and it is curly and soft, and then it dries into an afro. I just love my hair...

The students at the school where I teach. Yesterday, I saw two students at a restaurant near the school, and they were extremely happy to see me. Today, I went to an ice cream shop to visit a student, and he said that I could have whatever I wanted. And, I had three small scoops of ice cream, a brownie, and a cookie that were ALL so good. Grateful for these students......

Friendship. I spent a whole lot of time this weekend with three friends who all graduated from Tuskegee which means that this felt like hot chocolate on a very, cold day. We were together, in a restaurant, until they literally put us out. There was lots of talking, and laughing, and sharing, and it felt great to be a great listener.....

Podcasts. I have been listening to tons of podcast, and I must say that I am learning a whole lot, and I just love them. My top four are NPR politics that basically gives a quick rundown of what’s going on in politics daily. Oprah’s Master Class; I just love folks' stories. The Stacks where writers talk about books and the craft of writing; it is umm umm good. Teach Me, Teacher is about teacher stuff, and I have learned so much about my craft. Long live Podcasts.....

My commitment to health. I get on the elliptical every day for thirty minutes before I eat. I workout with my trainer, Berhane, three days a week, and I ride my bike, on the inside, just about every day from forty minutes to an hour. I love the routine of it all, and it makes me feel quite accomplished. I feel blessed that I use the time for my benefit. Y’all know I could easily be on my butt reading a book!

Berhane, My Trainer.  He gets on my nerves, but I am grateful that he is consistent and compassionate. He was asking me if I had time to work out before I go to work, and I said “Of course not, I am at work by seven.” However, he pushed it more, and said something like “So, you are like everyone else?” And, the next day I was on the elliptical by 5am and at work by 7am, and I absolutely love it. I thought I couldn’t do it, but thanks to the encouragement from Berhane, I am making it happen.

A good school year. Looking back on the past two or three years, I think that those years were rough, because this year feels like the clouds have moved back and the sun is shining brightly. I got great students, I feel good about the educational direction of my classes, and every, single day, I finish early… GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Not acting on my feelings. For awhile, I have been practicing sitting with my feelings and being thoughtful about my responses. Y’all know that we cannot trust our emotions. Many, many times they are dead wrong. I am getting good at allowing myself to feel what I feel and doing absolutely nothing until I have had time to think. It is working!!

DC. I love DC. The culture is everything… U Street, Union Market, the countless happy hours, the concert, the plays, the author talks, the independent bookstores, sporting events and the many, many restaurants, and the Smithsonian. DC feeds my spirit.

Time alone. I love folks, and I love being around them, BUT ain't nothing like my time alone. I have TONS of time of alone, and I am grateful!

What y’all grateful for?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A WHOLE lot in.....

but not much coming OUT on paper....



So, that has been my life; I have been reading a whole lot and writing very little.

However, I have been having that nagging in my head that has been saying clearly: “Write.” AND, so I am committing to writing at least an hour every day whenever it is possible.

You know, every, single time that I thought about writing, all I could think about is how it requires my full attention and my entire body, and I was resisting it. Writing ain’t easy, and I was resisting the focus that it requires.... sometimes our thoughts are worse than actually doing the activity!

I read How To Be An Antiracist by Kendi Ibram, and this books has been on mind every since. I have given lots of thoughts to how hard folks are hard on each. I mean, we do not extend each other one ounce of grace. AND, folks are human, most of us are trying the very best that we can, but if we mess up just a little or do not do things exactly like other folks want us to... then, all hell breaks loose... Grace and Mercy. We got to allow each other the space to be human and all that comes with that. This is one of my takeaways from that book.




I was recently at the book tour in DC for Tomi Adeyemi, who just released her second book Children of Virtue and Vengeance, and it was put on by a Black bookstore, Mahogany books in DC. Oh, how I love Mahogany Books. The entire auditorium was filled with Black folks supporting a Black writer. Tomi, came out in tears; she was being human. She revealed that something terrible had happened that day, and she was not at her best. However, she felt what she was feeling, released it, and it was a wonderful night. I completely felt connect to Tomi who felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable and say “I feel like shit, but I am going to embrace this moment." Y’all... I felt the love in the room go straight to her, and she gave it right back... It was a phenomenal night.

However, this woman next to me stated “folks didn’t come here to hear about her troubles. You can tell that she is young based on her response to her troubles.” Y’all... all I could think was Grace and Mercy... Grace and Mercy...  Can we allow each other to be publicly vulnerable, get ourselves together, and then carry on? I thought about the book How To Be An Antiracist again; he touches on this.


Anyway, I cannot wait to read Children of Virtue and Vengeance, because I thoroughly enjoyed Children of Blood and Bones. 

I have seen the movie Queen and Slim THREE times on the big screen. I just love ALL of that Black beauty on the big screen, and I had to see it more than one time on the big screen. That Black love and sense of community displayed on the screen really did my heart good.

I read Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, and he basically writes this entire book to say that we really don’t know each other, and most of the things that we assume about each other are probably wrong; however, we should try to swing towards human goodness as much as possible in order for us to live in harmony. He ends the books by talking about the Sandra Bland incident and how the cop basically read her all wrong, and if only he had dealth with her a little differently, she may not have been arrested and later found dead in a jail cell, and this led me back to the movie Queen and Slim.




In the very beginning of the movie, Queen and Slim are stopped for not signaling and swerving. The officer assumed that Slim had been drinking, and he treated him like he had committed a crime, and Queen ended up shot and the officer ended up dead. BUT, what if the officer had assumed that they were two people on a date, approached the car and told them why he was stopping them, gave them a chance to explain and really heard them, gave them a ticket or even warned them, and let them go about their merry business, then there would not have been a movie.

Do y’all remember the OJ Simpson trial and how many Black folks were pulling for OJ. Not that we knew whether or not he was innocence, but a whole lot of people thought he was not innocence, but he got off and for many Black folks, it felt like we had finally won for once. AND, this is the exact feeling that I felt watching Queen and Slim. I was pulling really hard for those two; I wanted them to win. And, not just win for themselves, but for us. However, the entire movie could have ended or been a whole ‘nother movie if only the cop had assumed the best about these two young Black folks and acted on those notions.


Recently, I was in a school, and I saw a student running and two administrators, a cop, and security was running after the student. I instantly thought of Sandra Bland. First, the student was not violent, she did not have a weapon on her, so I was not sure why it took all of those folks to stop the girl. And, I thought about how her anxiety must have been going to the roof with folks chasing her. If she stopped, would one of those folks following her give her hug that I am sure she needed, or would they hastily take her to the office (jail), drill her, and take her to detention? (Jail!!)

I have been thinking about the idea of how can we get to know folks, not be friends, but to understand, be empathic, and be their allies. I was listening to a podcast, and a writer stated that most folks do not have a person of another race whom he or she would call friend. I am talking about friends, where you can be vulnerable with them and tell them everything. So, how are we going to get to know folks, and get pass those stereotypes if we do not spend time with folks who do not look like us and folks who look us but have totally different backgrounds.

I imagine groups meeting up all over this country. Uneducated and educated folks, with folks who live in inner cities, with folks who work on capital hill, folks on welfare, millionaires, all talking about their lives and experiences, and why they do what they do. I want these folks to exchange numbers and do things together and really get to know each other, and I believe that we can heal our land.

Now, will these meet up happen? I want to say no, but we can read fiction and non-fiction stories to understand human nature and folks stories. I think I know human nature well because of literature. I know that I am very empathetic because of reading. I know I know a whole lot of random stuff because of reading, and this type of knowledge is accessible to almost everybody. I say almost everybody, because you know there are places in out country that have books deserts. Yes, book deserts, where people have limited to no access to books, and this makes my heart weep. But those of us who do have access to books, we can read, and read, and grow, and reach out to folks, and join groups, and heal our land.

I hope this made some type of logical sense, and I guess you can tell that there has been a lot on mind. If you read it and was able to follow it, I hope that you got something out of it. BUT, if it was far to much rambling for you; I understand that too.

Not sure what y’all have been up too, but I am hoping that you guys are trying your damnedest to live your best lives... loving a whole lot of folks.... communicating with folks and not just texting. Winter, in places that get dark early and cold, like Northern Virginia, can be quite daunting.... but I just keep on keeping on.

Holler y’all!!!










Friday, April 26, 2019

8 years.... Money in the Bank!



It’s Our 8th Anniversary!

Berhane, the best personal trainer in the whole wide world, has been training me for EIGHT WHOLE YEARS! Yes, EIGHT WHOLE YEARS, and we have ninety-nine more years to go.

Recently, we were talking about numbers. Actually, we were taking about the holy trinity of numbers: blood pressure, sugar levels, and cholesterol.

Berhane explained that if you have good numbers, that is like money in the bank. Yep, that is a whole lot of GOOD money in the bank. However, he went on to state that if we continue to spend the money and never replace it, eventful it we will be depleted. So, basically he is saying that if we are blessed to have The Good Holy Trinity of Numbers, then we must work to keep those numbers good. It is like having a brand new car and never, ever doing the required maintance.

If you have MONEY in the Bank.... Work to keep it.
If your account is running low or is empty; it is never to late to get your money right.

It’s been EIGHT YEARS y’all.

If you need or want a personal trainer or need or want a personalized gym, then check out Berhane at BT Fitness. 



Sunday, December 9, 2018

Book Clubs


I absolutely love books and readers, AND when you combine the two, you have.... BOOK CLUBS!

Recently, I have participated in three book club meetings: LIT on H St., Mahogany Bookstore, and my chapter of Delta Sigma Theta book clubs.

With the Lit on H street book club, we read and discussed A River of Tears by Vanessa Hua. The discussion was wonderful, the people were wonderful, we met at Solid State Books in DC, and that place is wonderful. Vanessa was not at the bookclub meeting, but I did meet her a few days later at the public library.


Mahogany Book Store, A Black owned bookstore in Southeast DC, bookclub meeting was held in their store and Panama Jackson, one of the writers of the blog Very Smart Brothas, hosted the book club meeting. A group of about fifteen, well-read Black folks read and discussed The Well-Read Black Girl Anthology that is edited by Glory Edim, founder of the Well-Read Black Girl reading group. We had candid, lively discussion, and y’all my heart was so happy in that space with those people.


The READ book club which is an extension of my chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, read and discussed Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. We had great food, lively discussions, and great sisterhood bonding. I always feel absolutely loved when I am with these ladies.


 Whatever brings you complete joy, immerse yourself in it, and do whatever IT is OFTEN!!!!

There is no time better than now.

BOOK CLUBS RULE!

Friday, November 23, 2018

What’s Important To YOU!

Ibi Zoboi the author of American Street and Pride

If you are thinking about giving your students more choice in what they read, or if you are giving your students choice in what they read, just know, that it requires the teacher to be very secure in her thoughts about reading. You have to know that you know that reading is fundamental and is extremely important.

I know, without a doubt, that reading changes people. I know for sure that the more a person reads, the more that a person will want to read. Reading is like going to the gym! If you go regularly, it can become a habit, and you just do it. However, if you miss a few weeks or even a month, it can be difficult to go back, but once you go back regularly, you can fall right back into the habit.

Tomi Adeyemi author of Children of Blood and Bones

I have always been a reader, but my reading has had its ebb and flow; times when I have read more than at other times. When I starting the 10 to 40 reading challenge with my students, this caused me to be more conscious about my reading. I started reading more young adult books, book with characters who don’t look like me, more memoirs, and every other book that peaked my interest, and I must say that it has tremendously, positively impacted my life. I love deeper, I am definitely more empathic, I know more, and I am in relations with more and more people because of books. And of course, this transfers to my classroom; I want my students to experience the growth that can take place because of reading, and therefore, I take what I know for sure into my classroom.

Elizabeth Acevedo author of The Poet X

Teachers, I know you are thinking about fake reading. Students read when they find a book that they want to read, and this can be challenging. Almost all of my students are reading, but I do have a few who jump from book to book, but every, single class, I give those students different books with the hope that they will finally start the journey of being a lifelong reader. Many days I want to give up, but I remember how the whole class novel put me in the driver sit, and put the ownership of the students’ learning on me, but I know now that their learning is a joint adventure. They must take some ownership, and choice does that, so I continue to plug away.

I can not say that reading is important and not be a reader, so here are the eleven books that I have read since September 22nd: the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall:



The Power was recommended by President Obama, and it is amazing. It is speculative fiction that looks at the idea of what if women had all the power. Men, according to this book, y’all should be scared.

Ghost Boys is a young adult book about a boy who was killed, but he comes back as a ghost, and he spends time with Emmett Till. Yes, Emmett Till. This is an amazing, quick read.

So You Want to Talk About Race is about race in America. If you are new to talking about race, then this is the book for you.


The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali is one of the best young adult books that I have read this school year. It is eye-opening, and we get a glimpse into the lives of children who are trying to navigate between two cultures... We get to go to Bangladesh!!!

There There is a story about modern day Native Americans. There a lot of characters, and each story is delightful with very strong voices, but while reading this, I went to Tuskegee for homecoming, and I had few other things going on so, I may need to try this one again.

The Outward Mindset was the Superintendent of my school district book club selection. I believe in every word of this book; if we all think about the greater good of the school, and not just our roles, there should be little lack in any school.


The 57 Bus is a young adult book that is thought-provoking and is based on a true story. Grown folks read this book to gain an understanding of young folks, and then share, share, share with as many young folks as possible. 

Song of Solomon is one of my favorite books of all times.. It’s a well-written story written by one of my favorite authors: Toni Morrison.

Heavy is Kiese Laymon’s memoir, and it is beautiful and though-provoking. If we want to understand American, we have to read folks stories. This one is powerful, and I will read it over and over again. 




Kinky Gapacho is for all of those Black high school students who are navigating white spaces and is doing a very, fine job. 

The Star Side of Bird Hill is absolutely beautiful... What do you do when one of the most important people in your life is mentally ill? Enchanting story of resilience. 


I just started A River of Stars, and I am completely captivated. Great story about an Asian woman who wants the best for her unborn child.

Y’all if you want to keep up with my reading, follow me on Goodreads.... I finally decided to try Goodreads again; It’s GOOD!



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