Saturday, March 29, 2008

Prophet or Perpetrator?

An Open Letter to Bishop James David Manning

Bishop James David Manning in his space and his own words...

The Great Palace of WorshipMission Statement: Almighty God has called and destined Pastor James David Manning to stand on this magnificent stage to reach the leaders of this world. This palace with its ornate beauty, splendor, and presence of God will attract leaders in the field of ministry, politics, education, and worship to seek a Word from the Lord. The Great Palace of Worship inspired by the power of Almighty God working through the teachings of Pastor James David Manning, will be the platform used to preach the healing and cleansing power in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to the nations of the world.

An Open Letter to Bishop James David Manning:
I write out of concern about the many viral, poisonous, and provocative videos posted on your website as well as After prayerfully reviewing the clips sent to me by others, I reviewed the website maintained by your organization and was disturbed by the level of toxicity and venom from which few are spared. What I did notice lacking was any biblical basis for your vicious videos. For example, the attack on Bishop TD Jakes and other men who dance in the Holy Spirit misrepresents the presence and power of the Holy Ghost. Your position is that there is no basis for men to dance in such a way; however, we lack visual documentation of ancient praise and worship services and fellowships so this is your personal determination which lacks biblical support.

  • 2 Samuel 6 - David leaped and danced with such joy until he came out of his clothes. King David was a man who praised God without pretense and God rewarded King David for his unabashed love and public displays of joy in the Lord.

Multiple presentations deride Senator Barack Obama and personally attack him. This sir is a breach of Christian conduct. Jesus provides us with barometers to examine our attitudes, behaviors, and conversations to determine if we are abiding with Him or aiding and abetting the enemy. The simplest of these is found 1 John 3:14 - We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death.
You must understand sir, that irregardless of how any Christian feels about Barack attack his parentage or any other personal trait without basis is a reflection of our spiritual immaturity. Barack Obama has confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as his LORD and Savior and none of us is able to judge him as anything less than a servant of Christ.

NOTE: Jesus Christ selected the twelve disciples and prior to Judas revealing himself as the ultimate betrayer he was known as a thief - yet there is no biblical indication that Jesus nor the other disciples disparaed the man, his mother, or his motive in other matters in such a vicious and vile manner as you have done to Senator Obama. (John 12:4-6).

I am in no means insinuating or implying that Senator Obama lacks integrity; however, I am sharing this scripture to demonstrate that even when a believer is wrong there is a way to correct without castigating.

Ignorance is not bliss. Arrogance is in opposition with love and grace. Ignorance and arrogance are a dangerous combination; when these evil elements are mixed and vehemently spewed from behind a pulpit they become toxic seeds that breed dissension, distrust, and deep rooted poison veiled as prophetic preaching.

The Bible teaches to avoid the imbecelic rantings that mark the immature Christian and miniature intellectuctual. However, there is a time when we must stand and rebuke those who transgress so that others will not follow the moronic message. This is especially true when the one engaging in this viral lunacy misrepresents himself as minister of the Christian gospel.After reviewing the video clips, studying the Word, and praying...I am fully persuaded now is the time to present this corrective communication.

I publicly present this letter because you have engaged in a public tirade disguised as preaching and teaching. Sadly, I must disavow the videos provide any beneficial content or exposition. Indeed, it appears to be a most selfish indulgence of personal pettiness and public attention-seeking veiled with the pageantry and venacular of religious tradition. Sadly, many look at these clips and fault Christ and the Body of Christ - if I must - I shall be the voice of reason seeking to restore you and reconcile you, if that if your desire.

Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid godless, foolish discussions that lead to more and more ungodliness. 2 Timothy 2:15 - 16

  1. dereliction of duty - the key responsibility of one called to preach is teach and preach the uncompromised gospel to the glory of God and edification of the people of God. Preaching is a privilege and responsibility that requires prayerful and purposeful interaction with God. Preachers must sacrifice preferences and prejudices to immerse themselves in the Word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal unto them the will of God. Your attacks on Obama have not been supported by scripture and do not reveal the love of Christ of fruit of the Holy Spirit.

  2. distracton of the Body of Christ - the Body of Christ is called to work to fulfill the will of God. Review Ephesians 4:17-32, and pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you and give you and understanding of this passage. Be especially mindful of Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. When you speak those things which do not glorify God or edify the people of God you do the Body a disservice. Time spent carrying out the Great Commission now must be spent clarifying the confusion and chaos you have presented. Before you engage in mental masturbation from the pulpit to satisfy your own need for attention ask yourself how you strayed so far from the ministry of far from the will and love of God? No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12; If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1 John 4:20

  3. and sowing discord among the brethren - this is one of the seven listed things which the Lord hates, review Proverbs 6:16-19. God created us in His image, we ought to bear some resembalance and carry some traits of our Father in heaven. In days like these we need to come together not to cause division - see Hebrews 10:23-25. Now is the time to provoke one another to good works.

Mr. Manning, it is my prayer that you receive this communication in the concern and Christian love in which it is written. I understand that ministers have a heart to see the people turn to God - redemption and salvation in Jesus Christ is essentially and eternally important. However, the message of ministers must be that God is pure and righteous; otherwise, we are not preachers of the gospel but pundits or gossips.

My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father-that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. John 17:21

Let us be about the ministry of reconciliation and equipping the believers to do the work of the church. As leaders we should lead the way in living according to the Word of God. As preachers we have a higher calling...let us live so God can use us and people can follow us as we follow Christ.

Moreover, preachers will be held accountable for misleading the sheep of God's pasture if we fail to feed them adequately or lead them appropriately.

Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1

Like all believers we will give an account for what we say.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36

Be careful not to be given to or overtaken by The Spirit Of Diotrephes.
How can you, Brother Manning and others identify this spirit?

  • Those overtaken by this spirit engage in malicious gossip

  • Overzealous and self-appointed leaders castigate those believers with whom they differ?

  • The insatiable desire for preeminence that prompts leaders to reject biblical teachings concerning brotherly relations and to engage in malicious gossip, salacious attacks, and attention-seeking public escapades
Brother Manning there are many other confirmations that the spirit of Diotrephes is working through you...I have observed these three. However, the Holy Spirit is greater and you can yet be delivered by repenting in the name of Jesus Christ.

There is no need to respond to me, Mr. Manning. My prayer is that you examine yourself and line yourself up with the Word of God asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you should do restore yourself. I shall be in prayer for you, as I am for all believers. We are all one Body and we are only whole when each part is whole. May the power of the Holy Spirit rest, rule, and revive you.

Pastor Kelly Oglesby
Peace and power are in Jesus Christ alone!

"Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep, but are really wolves that will tear you apart. You can detect them by the way they act, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit. You don't pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles. A healthy tree produces good fruit, and an unhealthy tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can't produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, the way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit that is produced. Matthew 7:15-20 NLT

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"I come to this with a lot of interesting talents..."Mrs. Michelle Robinson Obama

"The double jeopardy of being black and female in a racist and sexist society may well make one less afraid of the sanctions against success. A non-subservient black woman is by definition a transgressive- she is the ultimate outsider." Mamphele Ramphele

Michelle Robsison Obama is leading the way in demonstrating how we, citizens of the United States, can best advocate and support Barack Obama's pursuit of the presidency. She has no example or role model to which she can look or cull wisdom borne of their own experience.

Michelle Obama has opened her marriage, family, and life to America; for the future of our nation she has put aside her immediate life: career, volunteerism, and personal interests to invest herself in the democracy of our nation and future of the global community. While maintaining a loving supportive partnership with her husband in parenting and politics she has enthusiastically greeted supporters, staunchly listened to and graciously responded to critics, and managed to maintain a smile that reveals a sense of peace that comes from being grounded in faith.

Michelle Obama has refused to ignore the challenges that come with gender and racial bias; she like her husband have broached the topics that divide us in an endeavor to unite us. Political foes have called the Obamas delusional race baiters and others have ridiculed them for having delusions of unity in the midst of diversity. Yet, Michelle Obama has risen day after day to continue teaching us that we must dialogue even when others dismiss our ideas and ideals.

We really are 15 countries, and it's remarkable that each of us thinks we represent the real America. The Midwesterner in Kansas, the black American in Durham - both are certain they are the real American. Maya Angelou

Michelle Obama has endured the skewering of her pastor and husband. Pundits assert only neglectful or worse parents would have exposed their children to the remarks of their pastor and the reaction of some of the congregants. Yet, Michelle Obama has stood with her husband and continued their efforts to win the nomination of the Democratic Party with integrity. The continued strenth of character exhibited by Barack Obama is the result of a loving, prayerful, compassionate, and intelligent wife who not only shares his vision but has the gifts and talents to support the vision of Barack while working to manifest her dream of an America that will see her daughters more clearly than it has ever seen their dear mother or our brave foremothers.

Michelle Obama understands that to be an advocate for women does not mean she is an enemy of men. Likewise, to share her perspective on the reality of racial and gender relations in America is not refusing to acknowlede and honor the racial and gender equities that have been achieved by persons uniting into movements to create a more perfect union. She has taken this season of politics to give us eudcation on what has been, what is, and more importantly what can be America. If it is beautiful, is up to us.

Anything that is as old as racism is in the blood line of the nation. It's not any superficial thing--that attitude is in the blood and we have to educate about it. Nannie Burroughs

Michelle Obama epitomizes the greatness of America. In this nation that is a union of fifty states, comprised of innummerable ethnicities, multiple socioeconomic conditions there is the beauty of potential. Opportunity is not always equal, life is not always fair...and yet in this young nation that has changed so much and often by resistance, revolution, protest, movements, and people banding together to overcome the shortcomings. While our nation was created with documents that were based on the Magna Carta those documents marginalized women and minorities; through amendments, legislation, and other tools of modification we have dared to envision a more perfect union throughout our history.

Let us be mindful to protect the freedom of speech, including Michelle Obama's right to freedom of speech. We are the land of the free and home of the brave...America can withstand self-examination, questions, critiques, doubts, fears, lamentations. Michelle Obama is but one shining example of the possibility of our citizens to move from marginality to marvelous.

The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance. - Maya Angelou

Michelle Obama...I can only speak for myself; I am a Black woman, I am educated, I am a mother of sons and daughters, I am a Christian, I am a registered voter, I am a wife, I am a sister, and much more. With all that is within me as an American, I say to you "asante sana!".

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Women and Black Hair Stylists

It is currently 7:40pm and I am sitting under a hair dryer. I have been at the hair salon since 4:00pm today. The longer I sit here, the longer I begin to ponder the question: "How long should you really spend getting your hair done?" I thought about all of the other things I do in life and the amount of time it takes to complete them. Working out - 90 minutes. I'm talking about a full body workout which includes cardio. Eating out- I can go to a restaurant and (even with a wait) be in and out in less than two hours. Church - I get a sermon, songs, and a prayer in 2 hours or less. (If I go to my Episcopal Church, they also throw in communion each Sunday and we're out in about an hour) Get R Done! A trip to the doctor for my annual physical - now docs aren't always on schedule, but once you get back in a room most of the attention is focused on you. I'll give it 90 minutes max. Still, nothing mentioned is close to four hours!

So, is it me? Is my hair that messed up? The last time I looked in the mirror I didn't think I had the nappiest 'do around. I mean, I don't have a lot of Indian in my family, but my hair does have potential. I don't get color, a weave or micro braids. Why? Why? Why? My hair isn't even thick so you can't blame it on the dryer. I will give some time to the fact that I got a relaxer. However, the other women I work with get their hair done during the workday. Most go to the salon downstairs. It is so amazing. They go downstairs at 10:00am and by 10:30am they are back upstairs looking fabulous. I didn't know 30 minutes and hair could be used in the same sentence!

Well, I looked at the color of my skin and compared it to my co-workers. I realized I was much darker than them. Is this a racist thing? Is there a conspiracy going around to keep black women in one area for an extended amount of time? Did black men plan this is order to have extended peace and quiet at home? I just don't know the answer. I asked some of my friends their thoughts. Some said they think black beauty salons take so long because folks are gossiping and you go in knowing you'll be there all day. Some said it's the speed of the stylist. Others think it's the price you pay for your service and that if you're willing to pay more, your wait will be less. I still had no clear answer so I asked my stylist her thoughts. She said that part of the reason it takes us longer is that our hair texture is different than our counterparts so most styles require us to sit under the dryer. She also said our counterparts can also take lengthy times getting a new do if they get color or some other process and usually when they are in/out quickly it's because of a quick hair cut or style. What she said made sense, but I don't know. I mean, I love my hair when I leave the salon and my stylist keeps it in great condition. But there has to be a solution. My hair is precious, but at the same time so is my time. I shouldn't have to spend a 1/2 day of work just to look presentable to the world!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What will we be doing forty-five years later...August 28, 2008?

"If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything ... that smacks of discrimination or slander."
Mary McLeod Bethune

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Racial discrimination is alive and permeating the global community. As an Black citizen in the United States of America, I am concerned with how this nation is upholding, advocating, and supporting racial equality and eradicating racial injustice within our socioecnomic sytem.
A review of the United Nations assessment on America's progress in this area reveals that this nation is not yet brave enough to take the steps necessary to create a nation that is truly the land of the free. Read and review for yourself at United Nations web site.

Racism in America is not resolved because we as a nation refuse to come to the table and look at the historic development and present sustainment of racism. An honest dialogue cannot be had when the terms are pre-defined and the outcome pre-determined. We must be willing to remove all vestiges and verbage of discrimination.

We cannot hold ancient documents more precious than human dignity. America needs to form a Racial Repentance and Resolution Forurm. This body would begin the endeavor of creating a more perfect union by having founding documents of colonialism and racism removed and call for the drafting of documents that create a society that is not built on racism or patriarchy.

The uplift of women is, next to the problem of the color line and the peace movement, our greatest modern cause. When, now, two of these movements-woman and color-- combine in one, the combination has deep meaning.
WEB DuBois

Continuing to add to documents that were wretchedly and patently discriminatory in their creation does not transform those documents to egalitarian. We cannot recreate using the same pathetically flawed reason and expected to reach conclusions that will be reasonable and right.
In America in the new millenium Blacks experience disparity is social and physical ills. Our generations suffer from Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome, and Racism Denial Disorder to the point that even some Blacks have begun to believe the delusions fed to them by mainstream media and society. Sadly, some of us have become so desensitized to the vernacular of racist code that we do not recognize or translate the meaning. For example, the encouragement for Blacks and other minorities to adopt and adapt to 'American Values' = Assimilate.

There is also a faction of Blacks refusing to assimilate who are just as toxic because they want to hold the community of Blacks hostage to the past and demand that we as a race stagnate. These confused souls want us to hold on to the dear and departed leaders and their practices as if there is no possibility of new generations bringing forth dynamic, intelligent, and focused leaders for the present. We honor the past; however, we must embrace, uplift, support, and respect those rising from our communities to lead our community beyond the point that Medgar, Malcolm, and Martin left off -- far too early.

Our children are more likely to experience incarceration than education, our health is impeded by capitalistic system that denies health insurance by sending our jobs overseas or refusing to create jobs with living wages and benefits in our own nation. Our communities suffer economically and ecologically as businesses flee the urban core leaving huge plants and waste in our neighborhoods and our people unemployed.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. What will we be doing forty-five years later...August 28, 2008?

The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery. The nonviolent revolution is saying, "We will not wait for the courts to act, for we have been waiting hundreds of years. We will not wait for the President, nor the Justice Department, nor Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands, and create a great source of power, outside of any national structure that could and would assure us victory." For those who have said, "Be patient and wait!" we must say, "Patience is a dirty and nasty word." We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually, we want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence.
Martin Luther King 8-28-63

Sunday, March 16, 2008

In Her Shoes

My mother passed away from Ovarian Cancer on May 23, 2006.  It was exactly five years to the date that she was diagnosed at Stage Four.  She was very involved with the community and was one of those women that left a lasting impact on your life if you all came in contact.  Late last summer, I received a phone call from The Center For Women and Families.  They wanted to honor my mother at their annual “Women of Distinction” banquet and wanted me to accept the award in her memory.  I instantly agreed.  For the next several months I collected various artifacts, pictures and footage of my mother for the video they would compose.  At times it was stressful to think about what she would have wanted said/shown about her for the award.

I didn’t honestly realize the magnitude of the award until a couple of weeks before the presentation.  In the 20 years of the award, my mother was the first woman to be honored posthumously.  If only it were that simple. With talks of her and the wonderful contributions she gave to our society, ALSO came this talk about this fantastic daughter that she has who is following in her footsteps and giving back to the community in her own ways.  During those weeks, with each mention of my mother’s award came words about me and the similar characteristics she and I share.

My uncle drove down from Michigan to be my official escort for the program. I knew I in some way wanted to physically represent my mother at the banquet.  So, I put on a pair of her gold shoes and matched it with her gold earrings.  I was literally in her shoes.  If you know me, you know I’m not one to easily tear up and get emotional.  However, as I stood in front of the thousand seated guests and Denise Troutman-Vasquez made comments about my mother (and then me) I realized that this was the official passing of the torch between my mother and I.  It was an emotional and spiritual moment.  I came close to breaking down in route to the front, but I held my head high with the dignity and grace my mother always showed.  

The banquet was beautiful and many of my mother’s closest friends were able to attend.  The video they made of my mother included an interview she recorded less than a month before she died.  I wasn’t sad while watching it, I smiled with pride.  I favorite moment of the video was the footage they showed of she and I doing the electric slide.  Her memory lives on and my life continues.  I would say that I have large shoes to fill, but actually they are just the right size!!!

Click here to watch the video that was composed.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Senator Obama and Pastor Wright

As a pastor of the Christian gospel and a black woman, I feel uniquely qualified to offer a perspective on the current conversation. Particularly, since I have purchased and listened to tapes of Pastor Wright at length and repeatedly as well as read some of the church publications. Indeed at one point in time my husband, who is also an ordained minister and pastor considered joining the denomination.

Pastor Wright is an experienced and learned man of the gospel and the world. Jesus never calls anyone to serve for their perfection but for their willingness to humbly serve. Pastor Wright has demonstrated he mourns for the "least of these" in sermon and service. The call of a pastor is not make the world more comfortable.

Pastors, all pastors chosen of God, are called to persuade, compel, and cause humanity to recognize their preferences may indeed be prejudices when aligned with the principles of God. Moreover, pastors must awaken their generation from apathy and contentment that they might pursue purposes greater than their present need and beyond their personal greed.

Lastly, in America there is a historical and contemporary issue of race that permeates the culture which includes the religious life. Christians do not measure their relationship with God on religious traditions, trends, or talk but on the truth of the word of God. We recognize that the vessels chosen by God bring their experiences and emotions with them; pastors are working out their own salvation as they are leading us in the God-given vision. We can accept a pastor who is not 100% of what we believe because our faith is in Jesus Christ and Christianity is based on a deep and abiding personal relationship with the Lord. Barack Obama cannot leave his church-home or pastor until God directs him to do so.

For all we know God has Senator Obama there to show Pastor Wright a more excellent way.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are you a slave to debt?

Are you a slave to debt?

If you do not know what is on your credit report, then you do not know if you are debt slave or not. Harriett Tubman knew it was impossible to free slaves who were not aware that they were indeed slaves...

Far too many in our community ignore the cost of debt and the calls of debt collectors. Money management or money mismangement is the legacy we hand to the next generation. Our children learn their fiscal habits from us. They are aware of our habits of shuffling cards, ignoring and blocking calls, and stacking mail we have no idea of how to or intention of learning to deal with so we can live in peace.

Many of us assume since we do not make a lot of money there is nothing that we can do. That is not true. We can to small but regular steps to establish money management skills that will improve our sense of physical well being and our fiscal health.

One suggestion I make to kin and friend is to check their credit reports each year as they prepare their tax returns. Thanks to legislation we are able to obtain one report that is aggregated from all three major reporting agencies annually. Apply tax refund, job bonuses, or raises towards paying off lingering debt. If you find errors invest the time to contact the credit reporting agency and the creditor and identify the error with as much detail as possible and ask for a correction. This annual check up is a good basic step. Click here: AnnualCreditReport . Once we have our debt diminished we can become investors and savers which empowers us to become independent in pursuing our dreams and helping others.

Know what is on your report. Know where your money is being spent. Know where your money is invested. Knowledge is power. Know who to turn to for help and knowledge as you learn to become a money master rather than living as a debt slave!

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves." - Harriet Tubman

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

African American Women as Political Participants

African American Women as Political Participants

African American women are challenged by the intersections of race and gender when seeking to participate in the American political process. Throughout the history of the United States of America race and gender have been political issues since the founding fathers drafted the constitution crafting the document in patriarchal terms and defining African Americans as three fifths of a person. Politics is the process whereby we as citizens interact to shape our society and institutions to operate in ways that allow access to national resources, maintain civil rights, and protect national interests.

African American women have engaged individually and collectively in political endeavors to advance the rights of all people and especially African Americans. Nonetheless, African American women have remained marginalized in the political process by African American men as well as others in the American political process. Indeed, we are marginalized by other African American women who for whatever reasons are complicit in sustaining patriarchy and silencing women. Political parity for African Americans with Caucasians demands that African American men embrace the cause of eradicating gender discrimination as intensely and intentionally as African American women have embraced and continue to embrace the cause of eradicating racial discrimination.

Historic endeavors of African American women toiling in political coalitions are often untold because few organizations, if any, allow women to serve in leadership. Sadly, this lack of cooperation and support from African American men in the cause of African American women was noted by WEB DuBois early in the twentieth century and now early in the twenty first century his words resonate with honesty yet remain unfulfilled.

In his 1920 essay titled, “The Damnation of Women,” DuBois wrote: “The uplift of women is, next to the problem of the color line and the peace movement, our greatest modern cause. When, now, two of these movements – women and color – combine in one, the combination has great meaning.” (Edney, 2006).

It is imperative for African Americans to gain and maintain political momentum to unite the causes of African American men and women so the community will experience political growth and viability in its entirety any other formation is less than acceptable.

*Edney, H. T. (2006, July 19). Black Women Leaders Still Pushed to the Back of the Bus. Washington , DC, USA.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My Private Concert

I've lived the majority of my life in the small city of Louisville, KY. Although you can usually find something to do here, it is rare to get quality African American performance groups in the area. I grew up a competition gymnast, cheerleader and semi-pro dancer so I have deep commitment and love for the arts.

Recently I went to visit my college roommate, DeShawn. She’s currently an OB-GYN in the Baltimore area. Several days before my expected arrival, she called asking if I wanted to go see the Alvin Ailey dancers. OF COURSE! As a minority child growing up doing physical activities, I dreamed of one day being as graceful as the Alvin Ailey dancers. Now my moment was coming to view them live. I became excited just at the thought.

We arrived at the infamous Kennedy Center and walked in with several hundred people. As others asked the usher to help them to their seat, DeShawn just walked passed them and said, “I know where we’re going”. We continued to walk closer and closer to the front of the theatre. As we got to the front row, DeShawn said these were our seats. Are you serious? As I sat down in my front row seat, I turned my back and saw four tiers of thousands of people. I was surprised by the size of the theatre and the rows of people that flowed behind me. I viewed the fabulous crystal chandelier piece that hung from the ceiling. I thought of all the historic events that had taken place here. I then faced forward in my seat and touched the stage. It was right there in front of me. Wow!

As the curtain raised, I was mesmerized by what I saw. There were beautiful African American dancers of all shades gracefully dancing across the stage. Their costumes were delicately put together and I sat in awe as they swayed to the rhythm of the beat. I felt as if it were my own private concert. I was so close to the dancers that I could tell you the color of their eye shadow, hear their breathing patterns and describe the muscular lines as they changed movements. As the music changed from jazz to negro spirituals I started to really ponder the magnitude of what I was viewing. The Alvin Ailey performers represent some of the most talented African American dancers in the nation. Both historically and today, they have been able to show an appreciation for the arts that millions have flocked to see. Their style and charisma were simply breath taking and their passion toward preserving African American traditions through song and dance will be a memory that will stay close to my heart.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Women's Month

It is not the intelligent woman v. the ignorant woman; nor the white woman v. the black, the brown, and the red, it is not even the cause of woman v. man. Nay, tis womans strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice. – Anna Julia Cooper

March is Women’s Month, set aside to reflect on the historical contributions of women, applaud the present endeavors of women, and celebrate the future of women. March 8 is International Women’s Day, the one day when women around the world focus on the global commonalities that prevent women from engaging uninhibited in culture, economics, government, politics, and religion which are the pillars of all society.
It is important for all humankind to recognize that the oppression and repression of women impairs men as well as women. When greater than one half of the human race is crippled by rape, domestic violence, and patriarchal subjugation that is perpetuated by economic and political systems, all of society is cheated of the opportunity to reach its fullest potential.

Women bring extraordinary perspectives to the table. Moreover, the woman’s voice speaks to circumstances in ways which no man can do likewise. Even the silence of the woman is a message that no man can communicate on her behalf.

The voice of the woman speaks in a roar that resounds with the rage and fury of having her space and body disturbed and violated.

She wails in plaintive and lamenting tones of one who has been stripped of her loved ones and homes in political insurrections and wars in which she had no voice.

Her silent tears tell of an anger so intense she dare not speak of the atrocities she has endured while seeking to contribute to a world that neither sees nor hears her.

From within her spirit she sings of the hope that she cherishes for herself, her sisters, her daughters, and her world…one day the world will welcome women to lead, teach, speak, and accept women as partners in the global community.

The global community must unite to end trafficking of women as sex slaves, domestic violence, economic and political discrimination, and the marginalization of women in culture, labor, religion, education and every segment of society.

"Not the boys less, but the girls more." – Anna Julia Cooper

Monday, March 3, 2008

Taking it back Black

Devin Robinson is "Taking it back Black", with a cooperative economics movement in the hair care industry. Spearheading the "100 stores in 100 days" movement under the Black Beauty Supply Association, he illustrates the very nature of Dubois' plea for black wealth sustained and cultivated not on the backs of blacks but to the benefit them. To create the fight for this however Robinson had to run into a rather unsettling experience.

While shopping in yet another Asian owned beauty store for his own salon, the Korean owner threatened him with a golf club and threw him out without any explanation. Still, Robinson utilized the experience to create change.

There had always been an entrepreneur in him; before the incident Robinson had been writing self help books and opened a salon in the interest of his friend. He like many in the Black community recognized the need for black owned and run businesses in the inner city and had already started to make efforts to combat our situation. Still, when thrown out of the beauty store Robinson sprang into action!

"I'm not trying to cast out the Asian influence in our communities I am trying to increase black ownership instead of just employees," said Robinson. And he has, by taking an active role in changing the dynamics of black business in our society and recently releasing his new book, "Taking it back: How to become a Successful Black Beauty Supply Store Owner."

The book is an instruction guide for blacks who want to regain control of an industry that has been stripped from their hands. He stands as an example for all business men and women to go into their communities and cultivate strength and economic solidarity with one another. Eighteen months after he opened his first store he had three more opened in inner city communities.

Cooperative Economics is based on successful blacks going back to their communities and giving back by creating examples for the youth to do more than just what the music videos imply, as well as nurturing black influence on our national economy by increasing the value in our neighborhoods and lives in general.

"The common denominator in our communities is education," said Robinson. We tend to find less equipped schools and institutions here. The kids are blinded by the media portraying people that made it to the limelight without an education. But what they don't understand is many of those people have innate business skills, and an enterprise sense about them enabling them to have their own clothing line or record label.

Robinson's books do well to instruct aspiring Blacks to accrue a better business sense about them selves. He's starting a movement that is bigger than his name and the hair care industry combined.

"It's not about me. It's very important for me not to be selfish. Oprah could loose it tomorrow. If you go through life thinking its all you, you're causing more harm to the community than help," He stated. "You want to have a community that will take care of you and to do that you have to take care of your community. We must start now and pass the knowledge. Many people think you loose something in sharing knowledge but we can't think like that. We can all benefit on a larger level. It is about predecessors." Creating black money and black self-value on a level that isn't purely aesthetic like in a video or painted on acrylic nails, Robinson has taken a truly abstract approach in that he started with the beauty industry, ironically flipping the scene on the values of the black community during"bling-bling blindness." He notes that we can not continue to believe life is a lotto ticket true wealth is not created and cultivated that way, but it takes discipline.

You can find information and works about and by Devin Robinson at his website

Black and Gold

This weekend was insane. Traveling to Lexington to participate in the Ms. Black and Gold Pageant at UofK, representing the Eta Rho chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. was pretty intense! But I learned so much.I have a heavy personality I know that, and my message is even heavier, but when I got on the stage it seemed like my mouth was too small to convey a message so large. And I broke under pressure. That morning I prayed for hours on the stairs digging deep into parts of my spirit I thought I had lost and my prayers were so specific that after the competition God's answers were even more readily defined.I prayed for independence then found myself looking in my father's countenance for approval on the stage. I prayed for patience then wished I could go home. I prayed for wisdom then felt like a looser. I prayed for humility but found myself cultivating an image around my resume trying to lick the wounds of a crown elusive to my grasp.But there is a glaze that comes over human eyes wet and dancing toward attention hoping to please or engage others in act or comedy. The occuli well lit and lightened under spotlight float to the top of the human conscious unfocused and frothy like sea foam accumulated in the sockets of the eye; open looking for approval in its peripheral vision. And the smile that spreads thin across the minstrel chin is the only solid anchor found in this sea; and its smiling for the hope that the truest part of them will some how show. It is that smile that stands behind the Black and Gold and that sea that some like me can drift away in or drown their name in.I was weighed down with the circles. Tiny eyes and mouths and fingertips that hold my name and smash it underneath nails or swallow and gnash it with gossip and kind words, circles that drink in my presence beneath eyebrows and judge.And you may ask why did I do the pageant to begin with? People are all worth the same, its sexist and very un-Zen like to judge. But I find something very spiritual in being judged by others. Just as you can find the secret to life in something simple as a fortune cookie or a company logo, utilizing this opportunity for self growth seemed like the perfect thing to do, and it was. I have successfully judged myself and I know where I am and where I'm headed.To others it may just be a simple competition to put on your resume or delight your peers but to me it makes all the difference not what the judges say but how I measure up to this belief system in my Black community. There are things I stand behind and dream to be, this Hugstable dream applied to an African American reality, and there are things I disagree with because of how far they've migrated from Kemetic origin and African tradition. But the important thing to note is that I still believe and I must admit I draw a certain amount of pride in at least feeling like I am at the forefront of black thought as far as cooperative economics, multiracial integrity and a universal state of economic solidarity in peace and understanding.I will carry this message among other strides toward mental freedom and active change now and forever as I grow stronger daily in not breaking under the weight of a divine right order. A man's glance can not break me, a panel of judges can not move me, and a crowd of people can not stir my blood. I will have change in the palms of my hands and ignorance under the souls of my feet as I clear a path for something new, even for change and strength in myself.