A Letter to My 21-Year-Old Self

Dear 21-Year-Old Self:

I remember you like it was yesterday.  You were fresh out of college and ready to take on the world.  I must say, looking back, you have done a good great job!  I know at times it didn’t seem easy as you were growing into becoming your own, but knowing what I know now, there is so much I wish I could have said to you.  Before I start, let me just say that I’m still learning and the one thing I know for sure is that I’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg in what I have uncovered about life.  I have lots more to learn and will continue to share it along the way.  For now, here goes…


Life

Never live life as if you’re watching it from the sidelines—it will pass you by.  Don’t lose your passion and continue to chase your dreams—they will sustain you in times of uncertainty.  Trust what has helped to get you this far.  Remain vicariously happy and don’t worry about feeling like you must have it all together because you still won’t have life figured out in your thirties.  Yes, it’s possible for you to gain weight so continue to exercise and eat better.  Stop manipulating the texture of your hair–embrace every coily strand of it.  Make sure your graduate degree is worth it because those loans will be with you for a very loooong time.  Continue to feed your desire to see the world and all the beauty that it possess.  You’re a little uncertain right now, but your confidence will grow.  There will be additional moments of uncertainty but never let it rattle your confidence—you. are. smart. So far, you have lived your life like a textbook doing all the right things to become “successful” by your parents’ standards.  Let your hair down and become more of a risk-taker.   The moment you care less about what others think and stop worrying about missteps, the happier you’ll be.  Step out of your comfort zone.  What’s the worse that can happen?  It’s never too late to start over.  Every day you wake up gives you an opportunity to create a better you.  The more you practice being patient, uncomfortable and alone, the happier you will feel.  Stop thinking too much, the answers will come when you least expect it.  Your instinct will improve with age so never forget to trust your gut.  Surround yourself with people who enable you to laugh more; your demeanor will always be serious, but sometimes laughter will be the best way for you to get through.  Make peace with your past and when you feel lost, return to your center–meditate and pray.  Life is a beautiful challenge.

Family/Friends

Cherish your family, especially your parents—one day, you will look up and realize they are aging.  Remember that the aren’t going to be around forever.  You’ll start to sound more and more like your mother as you get older.  Don’t let it scare you because you will also have a greater appreciation for her wisdom.  At some point, you’ll stop saying that you do things to make your parents happy and will start to say you do it to make yourself happy.  It will be difficult at times for your parents and siblings to not view you as the baby–be patient with them and accept that in their hearts, you will always be the baby.  Never stop telling your loved ones that you love them.  Sometimes the lines between networking and creating genuine friendships become blurred.  As you grow and change you may lose a few friends—don’t be confused or disappointed. You will eventually learn that there’s a big difference between friends and people you merely know.   Don’t pay attention to the friends who mock you for not liking hard liquor, they will soon appreciate that your palate was built for wine.  It’s okay to not care about what everyone thinks of you—accept that you won’t be liked by everyone, but will be very loved by some.  Your family will always be your friends and some of your friends will feel like family.

Love

I don’t have this love and marriage thing all figured out yet, but what I’ve learned thus far is: love is durable but trust is fragile.  Learn to trust others and live your life in a manner that others are always willing to trust you.  Most importantly, always love and trust yourself, especially when facing adversity—you will only attract the love you think you deserve.  Don’t expect to be married by 30–you simply aren’t ready.  Use these years to experience all that life has to offer and don’t hesitate in kissing a few frogs.  I know you wish you dated more and spent less of your years with the same guy, but I’m here to tell you there’s not much to look forward to dating in your thirties.  Bu at the very least, you’ll have a few more stories to laugh about.  When you meet “the one” your relationship will feel easy and almost effortless—relationship drama is for the birds.  Your heart is more resilient than you think, don’t be so afraid to give it to someone who seems willing to appreciate and respect it.  Don’t worry, he will love what you think are flaws in yourself.  When it happens—and it will happen—try to ignore the voices around you that ask you how you’re going to balance a successful legal career and a marriage. It will simply scare you into feeling like you have to choose.  Love is not what’s complicated, people are.

 

What advice do you have for your 21-year-old self?

 

Advertisements

Who Do You Meet In the Club?

Last week my girlfriends dragged me to a popular club in the area so that we could catch up over drinks.  I hate going to this particular establishment because I think it’s the most high-end thirst trap venue in D.C.  Despite trying to get out of having to go, I showed up and immediately regretted simply not standing my friends up.  As we sipped our drinks and rocked to the DJ’s 90s set, I decided to make the best of it and ended up having a great time catching up with them.   But as I people watched, I made an unscientific observation of the following crowd of characters in the room:

The Undistinguished Gentleman: He walks through the door wearing his semi-tailored suit. He presupposes that every woman likes a man in a suit.  But he wasn’t expecting that so many guys would have the same approach as he did–most of the men are wearing suits.  The color of his pocket square is the only distinguishable feature he possess from the other suit-wearing men in the crowd.   He now wishes he wore his bow tie instead.  Disappointed at this realization, but undeterred, he remembers that his sock game is always on point.  So he finds and leans against the nearest chair causing a slight elevation in the foot of his pants, enabling him to show off his well-coordinated socks.  He hopes his look says that he is a classy man with a decent job and style.  As he leans against the chair surveying the crowd, his power suit gives him confidence to find a lady to strike up conversation and buy a drink.  He gets lucky with the first woman he approaches; she engages him in conversation and he is hoping to get her entire life story.  He doesn’t hesitate to give his usual elevator speech of his background.  She doesn’t hesitate to give him her number.  Tonight will be a great night for him.

The Groupies: Unlike men, women oftentimes don’t go to a club/bar by themselves (I do it and I think women should do it more often).  They tend to arrive in a group of 4 or more.  Each of them is hoping to draw some attention to herself but with such a large group, a guy doesn’t feel like he has an in. Walking into the group would be like offering himself up to a firing squad while hoping no one will shoot him down.  The women talk and dance amongst themselves never creating an aperture sufficient enough for a man to approach any of them.  They dance and laugh seemingly having a great time, but each of them is secretly hoping that one of the men in the club will take notice and ask her to dance or strike up a conversation.  She thinks, if he’s really a gentleman, he’ll offer to buy drinks for her friends as well. And as they prepare to leave for the night, a guy stops one of them on their way out.  Her friends, annoyed that they received no attention tonight hurry her to leave because they have spotted a cab waiting outside.  She leaves with her friends never exchanging numbers with her new friend.

Mr. Rabble Rouser: As soon as he steps through the door of the establishment, you know he has arrived.  His voice is one octave higher than the music that is blaring through the speakers.  He waves and kisses the waitresses as they pass by, he gives a handshake to the bouncers and bartender as he strolls to his usual spot—a table behind the makeshift velvet rope.  The table, which contains a bucket of ice and a carafe of orange juice and cranberry juice, is perched 3 feet higher than where most of the crowd is standing.  He sits down alone at his table, wishing they would convert the establishment into a cigar bar so that he can smoke the Cuban in his jacket pocket.  A few minutes later his 8 friends arrive making their way behind the velvet rope.  Their two waitresses make their way toward their table holding bottles of Moet, Belvedere and D’usse with sparklers around them.  The Rabble Rouser leads his boys as they scream “turn up” in unison.  Using the shackle grab, they begin pulling ladies up from the dance floor to join them at their overly crowded table.  Most of the ladies happily oblige and within minutes, they have a drink in their hand.  They are now all ready to turn up for the night.

Ms. Spotlight Grabber: It’s happy hour and most people are arriving directly from work, yet she is dressed as if her day job is working at a gentleman’s club.  Her sequenced dress reaches about mid-thigh; but with the 5 inch platform heels, the dress fits like she last wore it when she was eight-years-old.  Whenever the DJ plays a song, she goes wild as if it’s her favorite. Until the next song is played and she gets hype all over again. With each song and each drink, she gyrates her back and waist with extreme emphasis and bends over slightly in hopes that one of the men will come over and match her rhythm. It will be a disappointing night for her if her attention-grabbing outfit and Kama Sutra dance movements don’t grab a man’s attention.  The men smile awaiting the right opportunity to approach her while the women stare at her with disdain.  She’s used to smiles and stares—nothing can ruin her night.

The Pusher Man: Like every other weekend, he has his game plan down.  He buys drinks for himself and every beautiful lady that he meets.  Most of the time, he walks away once he hands her the drink.  He doesn’t want to come across as the guy purchasing drinks to get a woman’s attention–even though that is exactly his intent.  He surveys the crowd and finds the ones who look like his type.  He hands drinks to three different women throughout the night and none of them seem to have taken the bait–the second woman refused the drink. When he brings a glass of wine over to the fourth woman, he adds, “I hate to see a beautiful woman standing around with an empty glass.”  He gets a smile.  As he walks back over to where he was standing she’s well on his heels.  She taps his shoulder and says, “thanks for the drink, are you from here?” With a smile that says, ‘time to reel her in’, he responds, while thinking, “fourth time is always the charm.”

Ms. Cold Shoulder: She walks into the room prepared to break every man’s ego.  She constantly gives men eye contact and flashes her beautiful smile to lure them into her web. Men misread her stares as “come hither.”  And before they know it, they are met with her scornful reproach as they attempt to strike up a conversation with her.  None of them are ever good enough to be worth her time. But the reality is, to avoid future disappointments, she convinces herself that none of her suitors are nice enough to date.  Idris Elba could walk through the door and he wouldn’t make her cut.  She has dealt with a few fade away types so she tries to ensure her attitude is a turnoff.  As one man walks over, she prepares her screw face which causes him to divert his path and walk past her.  As the next man strikes up a conversation with her, she implements the belly button rule (when a person speaks to you, notice where their belly button is facing.  If it isn’t facing you, he/she’s not interested).  She has no doubt in her mind that the men who didn’t pay her any attention must be gay.  She leaves the club always disappointed that she never meets anyone that she likes.  Nevertheless, she’ll be back next week to try again.

As Oscar Wilde once said, “be your [best] self, everyone else is already taken.”  I am sure these crowd of characters that I oftentimes notice in the club are beautiful people who have a lot to offer.  However, when they walk into the matrix, that is the club, all bets are off and they lose the essence of who they truly are.  Wait!  Who am I kidding?  Sadly, these people are probably just as self-centered, insecure and rude in their daily lives.  Let’s just say, next time I go out with my girlfriends, I’ll be choosing the location.

Are We Banning the Wrong B Word?

If you haven’t already heard, Sheryl Sandberg and a few celebrities, well-known politicians (Condoleezza Rice, Beyoncé and Jennifer Garner to name a few) and organizations (Girls Scouts) are campaigning to ban the word bossy from our vocabulary. Sandberg, author of the book Lean In, which I’ve blogged about a few times, believes that girls are mislabeled bossy when they assert themselves as leaders. Whereas, boys who demonstrate bossy characteristics are heralded for their assertiveness.  The ban bossy website states that “by middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys — a trend that continues into adulthood.”  Are Sandberg and her supporters right?  Should we ban the usage of the word bossy?

Before I began penning this post, I vacillated on my position to this question. Were girls growing up to become women who hesitate in asserting themselves for fear of reprisal — being called bossy?  Even if that were true, banning the word isn’t the solution. Rather, we need to learn the true definition of the word bossy and teach others to use it in context. Whether you use the term, bossy, pushy, bully, overly aggressive, abrasive, etc., it all means the same thing.  I don’t think Sandberg is prepared to go on a crusade to overhaul Webster’s Dictionary.

Bossy became a word in the late 1800s as a derivation of the word boss. Let’s face it, we all know some bossy bosses who are male and female.  A bossy person is someone who orders others around with very little empathy toward those on the receiving end.  Whereas, a leader is someone who has mastered the fine art of asking others to do things, using a non-forceful or menacing tone.  This, in its simplest terms, is the distinction between being a leader and being bossy.  So what our children really need to learn is this distinction; no one likes a bossy person, irrespective of their gender.  Bossy people may get farther than those with demure personalities. However, an individual with great leadership skills will always get the farthest.  As parents, it is important to not limit your daughter’s assertiveness as long as she is being kind.  Oftentimes that tone is mimicked by what she hears from her parents. Similarly, boys should be scolded, rather than praised, when their tone becomes despotic. Children will understand the subtlety more easily if it is demonstrated by their parents.  The intonation that parents use with one another could eradicate bossy behavior while keeping the word in our lexicon to remind us how not to behave.  In other words, the manner in which we communicate could eradicate bossy behavior in our kids.

There are other derogatory B words that relate to women that Sandberg should consider eliminating.  For instance, we have turned the word “b!tch” on its head. Lil Kim made us all want to be a bad b!tch and a queen b!tch; and Kelis embraced her bossy demeanor by telling us she’s the “b!tch we love to hate,” and Beyoncé, one of the spokeswomen for the Ban Bossy campaign, sings “bow down b!tches.”  Meanwhile the woman who is disliked is referred to as the crazy b!tch.  More important than not being bossy, women don’t want to come across as being b!tchy (in the negative sense of the word).  Unlike the word b!tch, bossy is a well-defined term that hasn’t been turned on its head nor is it vastly embraced.  Even if we teach children the true meaning of the word bossy, the little girl who would have been called bossy in middle school will still be mischaracterized as a b!tch (or b!tchy) either by herself or by her peers when she becomes older.  So the real campaign should be to ban the use of the word b!tch.  There is nothing pleasant about the definition of the word b!tch, yet we (myself included at times) have embraced it, using it as a term of endearment as well as a way of demeaning other women.  So while Sheryl Sandberg is worried about having her leadership style misconstrued as bossy, she’s probably being called a b!tch by people who love and hate her.  This seems more problematic to the struggle for gender equality because the insecurity will continue only masked in a different term.  Although I respect Sandberg’s premise that words are a powerful tool and we should eliminate words that can harm us, banning the word bossy isn’t the approach that women should take if we truly seek to empower ourselves.  I admire her efforts but she chose the wrong B word. 

Lawyers: Choose Your Clients Wisely

Before I delve into this topic, click here to listen to the clip of Senator Tom Harkin D-Iowa as he so eloquently voices to his fellow senators, a concern that should raise the eyebrows of all attorneys.

I often tell people there is nothing to really admire about lawyers–we come a dime a dozen.  You can find some of us chasing behind the ambulance that is taking your sick relative to the hospital, or convincing you to pay us for something that you could probably do yourself with basic reading comprehension skills and attention to detail.  But in reality, I love the practice of law! Being a lawyer is one of the most admirable professions despite the bad reputation that often accompanies us.  In order to practice law, an attorney must sit for and pass the bar exam (one of the most grueling tests that one will ever take in one’s entire academic life) of his respective state; an attorney is then sworn in to the bar and takes an oath that starts off similar to this:  “I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of …”  The most admirable lawyers are those who spend their time upholding our Sixth Amendment Constitutional rights by serving as counsel to indigent people who are accused of criminal offenses.

Debo AdegbileMany lawyers accept pro bono cases because we believe in the importance of providing our expertise to those who need it most.  As such, I am appalled at the Senate’s recent rejection of President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Their rejection of Mr. Adegbile is a subtle promulgation that attorneys should be mindful of who they choose as a client.  Before I go any further, let me provide a brief description of  Debo Adegbile. He was born to an Irish immigrant mother, who raised him as a single parent, and a Nigerian father.  After attending NYU law school he went on to work for one of the most prestigious law firms in the country. Seven years later, he left the firm to join the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.  As the litigation director, Mr. Adegbile participated in the preparation of a legal brief filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and convicted cop killer, which led to the reduction of Mr. Abu-Jamal’s sentence from death to life imprisonment. As stated by Dhalia Lithwick, “the historic mandate of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund—was to help ensure that the American criminal justice system, and especially the death penalty, is administered fairly and constitutionally. As a representative of an organization that is institutionally dedicated to ensuring that justice is administered fairly, [Adegbile] fought for fairness and…judges agreed that unfairness occurred.”  It is without a doubt that Debo Adegbile is one of the leading civil rights attorneys in the United States and was unquestionably very well suited to be at the helm of the civil rights division of the DOJ.

I am not going to debate whether the conviction of and appeals for Mr. Abu-Jamal are justified because it doesn’t change the fact that he deserves to be represented by counsel.  Our system was created to protect not only the innocent but those who are guilty, to ensure due process for ALL.  So much so that if your client tells you that he is guilty of a crime, you are still obligated to provide him with adequate representation.  However, I can’t help but wonder what if Mr. Adegbile wasn’t a black man defending Mr. Abu-Jamal? Actually, there is no need to wonder because Chief Justice Roberts once defended an unrepentant mass murderer who was recently executed. Yet, Chief Justice Roberts was never questioned, yet alone denied confirmation by the Senate. Nevertheless, Mr. Adegbile’s defense of Mr. Abu-Jamal caused the Senate to indirectly proclaim that Mr. Adegbile was guilty by association.  This Senate vote, and the power of police officers to influence politicians, speaks volumes and should be troubling for every single person in this country. The behavior of police officers has always been questionable as it relates to the black community.  With Mr. Adegbile at the helm of the DOJ Civil Rights Division, the community was certain to have a leader who is especially conscious of civil rights violations against the black community.  More importantly, any person who is ever accused of a heinous, high-profile crime should be concerned that some of the best attorneys in the country may shy away from defending their case.  The life of the accused may end up in the hands of ambulance chasers and attorneys with mediocre litigation skills.

The U.S. Senate has blocked more Obama nominees than all other presidents combined; but the most recent rejection of the President’s nomination of Debo Adegbile should send a chilling message to lawyers throughout the country to choose their clients wisely.

9 Reasons I Hate My Natural Hair

Okay the headline is misleading–I don’t hate my natural hair, I just hate the assumptions that come with it.  Yes, I have natural hair and I love it!  I returned to being natural 8 years ago (with a brief stint in between).  What does it mean to have natural hair?  It seems to mean something different when you speak to various black women.  As for me, natural hair means that my hair is not chemically treated–meaning I don’t have a relaxer/perm.  The texture of my hair is the one that I was born with.  My hair may be natural, but please don’t take that as a reason to assume other things about my personality.  Here are 9 things I hate that people assume that I do or don’t do because I have natural tresses:

9 Crazy Assumptions of Naturals

1.  I don’t eat processed foods: I try to be a healthy eater, but I don’t read the labels before I stuff something into my mouth.  Therefore, don’t assume that because my hair is natural then everything that goes into my mouth is also all-natural.

 

2.  I don’t burn incense: When I’m walking  down the street in New York I’m often approached by street merchants trying to sell me incense.  Now, that’s pretty commonplace in NY.  But when a merchant gets on the metro in Washington, DC and targets me for a sale, I can’t but help to think it’s because I’m the only one in the train car rockin’ a natural.

3. I’m not a revolutionist/militant: Afros have made a comeback since the ’70s when they were sported by many men and women including Angela Davis and members of the Black Panther Party.  Like many afro-wearing people of the 70’s, my afro doesn’t mean I’m a revolutionist fighting for a cause.  I will stand up for a cause but being militant has nothing to do with the width of one’s hair.

4. I don’t judge women who worship getting their hair permed: The creamy crack epidemic is real.  To my chemically-treated hair sistas, I ain’t mad atcha.  Do whatever makes you happy.

5. Yes, I wear deodorant and it’s not Tom’s: They say that natural deodorant is good for you and safer than the others.  But in this case, I sacrifice safety for not being funky.  Sorry Tom’s and other natural deodorants, but you just don’t keep me fresh and clean.

6. I don’t make all my own hair products: My hair may smell like berries, but that doesn’t mean I picked it from a tree.  In addition to making my own products, I am also a product junkie.  My bathroom cupboards are filled with them.

7. I don’t always recycle: Yes I admit it.  My carbon footprint is pretty big.  Despite having these natural tresses, I will still throw plastic and paper into the regular garbage can.  I’m not proud–I’m going to start to do better.

8. I’m not ashamed to rock a weave: Protective styles are a naturalista’s best friend.  In the winter, my hair can’t retain enough moisture and in the summer, it looks like a frizz ball.  But for the fact that I’d probably want to take it out within a day, I would not be afraid to rock a weave to give my hair a break from time to time–the weave would have to be natural of course.

9. I don’t spend my time watching Youtube how-to hair videos: I wish I was more creative and could do more with my natural hair but I’m not, so I don’t bother watching Youtube.

Do Black Lives Matter in America?

America is racist. But you didn’t need me to tell you that. Voting for a Black president has not transcended us to a post-racial society. We continually observe (and believe) that the value of a Black life is inferior to that of a white person’s.

I was not born in the United States. The majority of the people who live in the island in which I hail from are Black. One’s race is rarely a factor. Beauty is measured by the lightness of one’s complexion; lack of such beauty and the benefits accompanying it can be overcome by wealth. In other words, classism supersedes racism where I come from. So when I arrived in the United States over 27 years ago, I didn’t know the first thing about racism.  What I have learned since then is that Black lives don’t matter.

Racism throughout history has shaped our thoughts

Over time, I’ve experienced the subtle and not so subtle illustrations of racist America. I have come to understand that the inequities perpetrated by whites against blacks for centuries is now engrained into the subconscious of all of us. The pervasiveness of inequality stems from Black people’s fight to survive, coupled with a sense of powerlessness, acceptance of our place in society and complacency based on an illusory belief that Blacks are better off than we were 200 years ago. It is this reality that causes us to accept slave masters raping women, or to overlook the subtleties of depicting a Black man as barbaric. It has been engrained in us that if you come from a two-parent household, don’t sag your pants and you are articulate, then you will be accepted in society and won’t face the same obstacles as other Blacks. Or, because America was courageous enough to place a Black man at the helm of leading our country, then all of us should believe that we are now living in a post-racial society. It is also the subtle manner in which whites have caused Blacks to turn on each other by berating one another and becoming a divisive group.

Subtlety of racism in our laws

What makes Michael Dunn pull a gun on four unarmed young teens? Because our society has proven he can get away with murder. History has devalued the lives of Black males. As Thomas Jefferson once stated in 1820,”I consider a woman who brings a child every two years as more profitable than the best man of the farm.  What she produces is an addition to the capital, while his labors disappear in mere consumption.”  In 1955 Mississippi, Emmett Till’s alleged whistling at a white lady was grounds for beating him to death and being acquitted for his murder. In 2013 Florida, Trayvon Martin was gunned down because he appeared suspicious while walking through a neighborhood holding candy and a drink with a hood on his head. His perpetrator was also acquitted.

This isn’t a sensationalization of these events.  Just as we had laws endorsing slavery, we now have laws that circumvent the value of a Black person’s life.  Raising the defense that you had to protect yourself from the Black aggressor who you believe to want to harm you is sufficient to acquit a non-Black person for killing a Black man. Although George Zimmerman did not invoke the “Stand Your Ground” defense, this law is currently on the books in 16 states while 19 other states across the U.S. have some variation of the law. This means that white people like Michael Dunn no longer have to cross the street in fear of the unarmed Black man walking toward them, nor ignore the loud “thug” music coming from a Black person’s car. Rather, a white person can simply stand his ground and use deadly force if he believes a Black person is threatening his life.  It appears that Dunn’s only mistake on that day at the gas station was leaving three of the four boys alive.

This isn’t a southern problem. Racism and the lack of value placed on the lives of Black men is America’s problem.  We want to believe that justice is applied equally when in reality our crime prevention and enforcement laws and policies disproportionately target people of color.  Statistically, most murders are intra-racial. In other words, most white homicides are perpetrated by white offenders. Yet, the media only emphasizes that “black on black” crime is the primary cause of the deaths of Black men.  In a 2012 Urban Institute study, killings of Black people by whites were far more likely to be considered justified than killings of white people by Blacks.  When PBS Frontline asked the analyst of the study to make a comparison between states with and without Stand Your Ground laws, he observed that in most states, whites who kill Blacks were 250 percent more likely to be found justified than whites who kill other whites. In states with Stand Your Ground laws however, that statistic jumps to 354 percent.  With these types of data, one should understand the righteous indignation by many Blacks at the fact that a jury could not determine whether Michael Dunn was guilty of murdering Jordan Davis.  As is often said, justice is never applied equally–especially when the victim is black.

How to combat the problem?

I read many articles on these topics and often share in the anger and frustration exhibited by the authors. However, rarely do those articles provide a means or ways that its readers can effect change.  Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of solutions, here are a few: (1) we need to start educating ourselves on our rights as citizens and ensure that we are reaching young black boys and girls; (2) read and stay abreast of laws that are created in your state as well as federal laws; (3) understand the implications that the laws have on your daily life. Perform your civic duties: (4) Vote for every elected official that will have an influence on creating and enforcing the laws of your country, state, city, county, etc.–these laws aren’t magically appearing on the books; and (5) show up for jury duty. Emmett Till’s assailants had an all-white jury. George Zimmerman had no black members on his jury.

I hope there will come a time in the future when our great great grandchildren can look back on today and genuinely recognize that there has been a drastic change in the manner in which Blacks are treated in the U.S., and racism and injustices against Blacks will become less prevalent. I hope there will come a time when Blacks can say America was racist. But you didn’t need me to tell you that.

TAP TAKES C.A.S.H. ON THE ROAD

I am always amazed by the manner in which young people are at the helm of shaping the next generation.  Some, like Mark Zuckerberg have had a world impact.  Others, like the young man I refer to as my “little brother”, are changing the lives of kids, one person at a time.  Chris, founder of Together Assisting People (TAP), has an amazing story of struggle and transcendence (which I will save for another post).  And through his experiences, he is educating youths primarily in urban areas.  I am posting this article to highlight one of his most well-received educational series:

photo

TAP brought its Financial Literacy series to the City of Atlanta last Sunday, where Morehouse College played host to a number of top high school athletes seeking to hear more about the financial pitfalls of professional athletes and how students could avoid those pitfalls.

photo (5)TAP partnered with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s Pi Chapter of Morehouse College to present the C.A.S.H. (Changing Athletes’ Spending Habits) Symposium—which focused on financial literacy and career planning. The forum featured a number of participants including TAP Founder and former University of Alabama National Champion, Chris Rogers; premier high school athlete trainer and founder of I-DareU, Glenn Ford; and keynote speaker and CEO of Champion Automotive Group, Knowledge DeRamus.

When asked what was the most important message to relay to the students, Ford said, “I thought it was important to stress to these guys that hard work and discipline are important to both success on the field and long lasting financial success off of the field.”

DeRamus, who has over 10 years of experience in automobile sales, broke down the process of automobile purchasing, including how to evaluate affordability and a prospective buyer’s buying power.

“Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you can afford it.” DeRamus told the crowd, stressing the importance of spending wisely.

photo (2)Rogers spoke about the importance of balancing academics and athletics. Rogers, who graduated with his Masters and a 3.9 GPA, while playing for Alabama and pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, gave personal examples of balancing academic life with athletic and Greek life. Rogers attended Alabama on an athletic scholarship. He explained to the young men how he utilized all available academic resources afforded to him as a college student.

photo (1)

Rogers supplied the student athletes with information about planning for life without or after athletics. He planted the seed of setting long term career goals that reach far beyond the confines of their chosen sport. TAP concluded the symposium by supplying each student athlete with a tie that could be worn to a job interview or to receive an award. “I want these young athletes to strive for academic scholarships because of the uncertainty associated with playing sports.” Rogers said. “In addition to a degree, I can definitely testify to the importance of having and maintaining good credit, as well as how attaining high quality careers will often require having credit in good standing.”

We have to ensure that we support young people like Chris and others who are working to shape the lives of our youths. Some may never realize how to creatively make a small difference in the life of someone else.  Chris has not only figured it out, but he is leading the charge in grooming young athletes to become better adults.  For a recap of the symposium given in December, watch the video below:

%d bloggers like this: