VOTE TODAY! NOV. 4TH


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Your Vote is Your VoiceIn the United States today is Election Day.  The elections today are called mid-term because they are between U.S. Presidential Election years.  Across the nation there are citizens you will have the opportunity to vote for federal, state, and municipal positions.  Here in South Carolina there are numerous positions on the ballot including Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senate seats, and State General Assembly seats both in the House and Senate.  In addition we have two referendums.  We the citizens of South Carolina and around the nation are the CEOs of our future.  Yes that is correct our role in the election process is as important as a CEO or hiring manager.

Our vote does count, if it didn’t there wouldn’t be so much effort to deter it and make it harder to vote.  Voting dictates your well-being for the next two years.  Your decisions on the ballot will determine if President Obama will be able to complete and do many of things he has worked toward this term, one being immigration reform.  Around the world the stubborn deadlock of the Republican Party is being looked upon as negative for our country and economy.

Today, remember the government shut down that was spearheaded by the Republican Party not willing to work for a compromise.  Over 20 billion dollars were lost during the shutdown.  Think about that when you cast your ballot.  There are many against the Affordable Healthcare Act but this law has helped millions of U.S. citizens gain access to healthcare.  I admit that the legislation is not perfect but repealing would be illogical.  It is time that the U.S. Congress takes the next couple of years to honestly work together; and for the party of NO to be a party of at least maybe.

Finally, I encourage you to cast your ballot.  Be sure to take federally issued identification to the polls with you.  Note that in most states you may even vote by provisional ballot if you do not have proper identification.  Do not allow anyone to stop you from voting if you know that you’re eligible.  If you believe that you or someone you know is a victim of vote discrimination then go to your states election information site.  If you live in South Carolina go to http://scvotes.org and other places check out http://Vote411.org . Or you can select the Voter Information tool below to find out information specific to you.

…Remember that your vote is your voice, don’t stay silent.

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Why I Vote


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Voting MachineI am the product of generations of activists.  African American along with Native American ancestors who consistently fought for their civic, civil, and human rights.  It is in my blood to be active and present in my own existence.  I first became aware of the political process in the third grade, while attending William H. Brown Elementary School in Chicago.  A huge red voting machine was brought to my school.  Levers and buttons were used to vote for the candidates of your choice.  The machine was intimidating but it helped me to understand that my civic duty of voting might not be easy.

My next experience with politics occurred the summer I turned 10 years old.  I learned about a candidate for President of the United States that hailed from the state of Georgia.  James (Jimmy) Carter seemed to just be a peanut farmer but digging deeper he was a man with clear political goals.  A former State Senator and Governor the political arena was very familiar to him.  I did not know much of about Jimmy Carter when I was a child but his daughter was my age and my parents liked him.  So I decided that he was the candidate, I wanted to win.

I was a freshman in college during the historic 1984 Presidential Election.  Where on the Democratic ticket the first female Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was alongside Walter Mondale.  Sadly they lost terribly to Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush but I was still proud to have cast my first vote.  I knew at that point that I would always vote for the persons I thought best to hold the office.

As I stated earlier voting is not easy.  It takes effort not merely at the polling place but before you enter the building to vote.  Some things that are a must prior to reaching Election Day is to ensure that you are registered to vote.  In some states there are voter identification laws that require approved identification to be presented upon voting.  In many states this Saturday, October 4th will be the last day to register before the Tuesday, November 4th elections.

Many people do not think their vote matters but it does.  It not only matters, it is your civic duty.  Elected officials write legislation and regulations that impact you every day.  From teacher salaries to whether Medicaid is accepted in your state to other impacts to your community, the individuals who win elections have your life and future in their hands.  Voting is a right that other nations are fighting to obtain.  Finally if you fall into the category of minority or are a female this right came with a struggle, fight and bloodshed.  Don’t take your right for granted; remember your vote is your voice, don’t remain silent.

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It’s Complex


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The Black Man...ComplexYesterday, I attended the initial performance of a play titled “The Black Man…Complex” held in Columbia, SC, created by Terrance Henderson and presented by Trustus Theatre & Jasper Magazine.  The play covered various complexities of the black man, including race, sexual orientation, and spirituality as well as other situations.  The audience was taken through an array of emotions including the recent shooting of the unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, MO.  In addition it touched on other black men current and past that had an impact on our society.  The performances were an insightful way to show that black men are very much multi-dimensional, made me think.

Just like the play indicated humans overall are multi-dimensional.  No matter what race, gender, nationality or economic status we are diverse individuals.  Judging someone when you first meet them only leads you to re-evaluate them after a while.  Pre-judgment of black men will continue to lead to incidents of obvious racial profiling.

Many of the recent tragic incidents that have bonded the African-American community to protest have over time faded out.  When the bubbling anger simmers down people return to their regular daily activities; at least until a new tragedy occurs.  This is not how the civil rights era was handled.  Beginning in the late 1940’s going through the early 1970’s there was a consistent movement toward action.  Ideas were formulated and grew into what we saw at the March on Washington and ultimately the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

My ancestors understood the power of the ballot box.  They understood that change doesn’t always come in one night or year or decade.  Change takes consistent and planned efforts to occur.  Many thought that the non-violent movement was pointless; they thought that you should retaliate hate with hate. However an angry mind is not a clear mind it is muddled with illogical emotions.  Of course we are human and anger will occur but letting the anger consume reasoning only leads to chaos.

In a future post I will outline the importance and reason why voting is important.  But for now remember,  the decisions we make in elections put people in place who have the power to set our laws on a local, state, and national level.  The issues we face are complex; however, with the right attitude and organizing we will & shall continue to overcome life’s complexities.

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Love Begets Love


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I have become that adult who says, “I remember when times were better back in the day.” That term ‘back in the day’ is relative because to some their youth may have been filled with struggles, fear and sadness. Watching the news it seems like the youth of today are surrounded by struggle, fear and sadness.

Love Begets LoveStudents living in nations abroad are being kidnapped from their families or fleeing war torn nations. Here on the North American continent there are children showing up in the tens of thousands at the Mexican and U.S. borders. Still one of the biggest tragedies is the shooting of African-American males by vigilantes and law enforcement; in addition increase of gang related shootings in cities like Chicago end the lives of many just on the edge of doing better.

Most recently in Ferguson, Missouri outside of St. Louis an unarmed young man Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. Reports indicate that Michael was shot aggressively with his hand raised in the air.  Even if he was attempting to get away from the police officer the multiple bullets shot we in excess of what was needed to stop one person.   According to multiple witnesses with he raised his arms in the air and declared that he was unarmed but was shot dead, senselessly.

A young man set to attend college and trying to beat the odds was shot dead by a police officer. There is dual agreement that Michael Brown was unarmed, which is one reason why this shooting is so very tragic. Around the U.S. a developed nation, incidents of excessive police force mostly against African-American male youth is present in many U.S. cities. Currently in Ferguson, Missouri protesters angry, frustrated, and feeling hopeless seeking honest answers were faced by riot police earlier in the week.

Wednesday night police in Ferguson, Missouri were using excessive force along with tear gas that caused more tension among protesters. Reporters were assaulted not by protesters but by the police. Even military officers have stated that the force by local police was excessive. Thursday by leadership of the Missouri governor the law enforcement has been turned over to state police. Across the U.S. non-violent protest rallies have shown individuals holding their arms raised with #PleaseDon’tShoot included in the photos.  In addition, statements by President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seemed to have helped calm protesters and let them know they are not alone.

I don’t know the ultimate answer to reverse the damage and frustration or anger and fear toward law officials. What I do believe is that violence only begets more violence. It takes sitting down at one table with an agenda of healing to bring healing. Most importantly it takes admitting that things need to change in order to bring change. A change in the law enforcement handling the protesters is a startt.  Finally, it takes respect of all races to become a better human race.

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On The Radio Waves


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This past Saturday, I was afforded the opportunity to give my liberal opinion on a local radio program.  In a few years I will approach the half century birthday milestone and have been reflecting on my purpose in life. My belief is as humans we should always seek to be better people and evolve in our thinking.

The Point Talk RadioMy journey to becoming a part of a diverse panel on the radio program Evolve with Tzima at 95.9FM & 1470AM The Point also accessed via tzima.net is something I’ve only whispered in my prayers. To be exact my desire has been to get an opportunity in radio broadcasting.  When I was asked to be the liberal voice, I immediately said yes. Later I began to wonder had I made the right decision and if I was prepared for such an awesome opportunity and responsibility.

The panelist in addition to myself includes a conservative and a libertarian.  We were only told we would discuss current events. With this general information I began reading any and every newspaper and website I could find. Politics, foreign affairs, immigration reform, marriage equality, and education were my focus reading.  In addition brainstorming with my fellow liberal friends and associates.

When Saturday arrived I had nervous excitement thinking about what the evening show would entail. The first question posed by the host was our opinion of President Obama and his work thus far. I responded first and stated that overall the president was doing a good job even with the numerous obstacles in his path. And I sat amazed as the other panelist generally agreed with me only adding some additional comments.

Responding to callers comments and questions made for an interesting and insightful three hours. Mixed in to the show was lead in and lead out music. With the guidance of our host Tzima time passed by quickly. At the end we decided this was a good idea and should occur monthly, more details to come about the next date.

Saturday’s you can listen to Evolve with Tzima at 95.9FM & 1470AM 9pm to midnight on The Point in Columbia, SC or via tzima.net on the web and call in to (803) 799-TALK.  Every person should seek to be informed about local, state, and federal events. Even when we have  differences of opinion, open discussion is important as we continue to evolve. I hope to hear your opinion next month.  Until then let me know what issues or current events are important to you?

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When The Funny Ends


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Nanoo NanooToday, I learned that actor and comedian Robin Williams died by apparent suicide.  It may seem odd that I am posting something about his death but there are those celeberties that impact you in unexpected ways.  I adored the late Maya Angelou and have posted about the late President Nelson Mandela when he was living.  But today hearing that someone whom, I have followed since the early 1970′s took their own life just knocked the wind out me.

A friend posted on Facebook that clinical depression can be as deadly as cancer.  I have seen this to be true in Hollywood and with every day regular people.  This past weekend, I had a long discussion with someone who fights every day with mental illness.  I pray that Robin Williams is now at peace.  I also pray for the healing of his family and friends.  It is truly a sad day indeed.

Finally to all those who suffer with depression or any mental illness I pray you peace of mind and heart.

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Mercy Mercy Me


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Recently, I had my six month dental visit. I do not have an aversion to the dentist, thanks to my mom locating a gentle pediatric dentist during my childhood.   Sadly, my mom did have horrifying childhood dental experiences including extractions without the benefit of Novocain. Thank heavens, I only learned of her tragic visits well into my adulthood, otherwise I might have had a different outlook or experience.

As an adult, I have encountered some dentist who I wondered were undercover sadist. Still over all my experiences have been positive. Today’s visit there was evidence of me rushing in the mornings in the form of some tartar build up but happily, I am cavity free. However, there was something completely unexpected, little blue speck found by my keen eyed dental hygienist.

Micro BeadThe unexpected blue speck was evidence that I used Crest Pro-Health. It turns out that my hygienist had heard what she thought was an urban legend regarding the little blue specks on patients teeth. No bigger than a grain of sand, the specks are plastic micro beads, most likely included to assist with stain removal.

Unbeknownst to me I was exfoliating my teeth! I expect that mint might be in my toothpaste and other edible additives but not bits of plastic equivalent to micro beads contained in my facial wash. After getting over my surprise, I must say I am angry. Angry that hidden in labeling is this ingredient that I believe should not be in toothpaste nor mouthwash.

Earlier this summer, I heard a story via NPR.org regarding Illinois banning the manufacture and sells of products containing micro beads.  This was due in large part to the increase of micro beads in the Great Lakes that are becoming part of Illinoisan’s tap water.  The story was interesting and I loving this planet became very concerned. Today’s dental visit was an additional wake up call to the impact of vanity on the ecology. No matter what we think teeth whiting or skin exfoliation is a form of vanity. Basic dental hygiene and cleanliness doesn’t require ecologically dangerous ingredients in order to be effective.

My favorite album of all time is Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” released in 1971; and one of my favorite songs from the album is “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”*. The lyrics are as follows:

Woo ah, mercy mercy me
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?

Poison is in the wind that blows
From the north and south and east

Woo, mercy, mercy me, mercy

Ah, things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Oil washed on the ocean and upon our sees
Fish full of mercury

Ah, oh mercy, mercy me
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Radiation underground and the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying
Oh mercy, mercy me
Ah things ain’t what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land

How much more abuse from man can she stand?

Oh, na na
My sweet Lord, no, no, no, na na

My lord, my sweet Lord.

Songwriter: Marvin P. Gaye
Publisher: Lyrics (c) EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group

Sadly the conditions listed in Marvin Gaye’s song are still present over 40 years later. During the late 1980′s it began to be evident that the ozone was being depleted with the increased use of aerosols. We also see and feel the impacts of climate change with unstable weather patterns and increase in severe weather like tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes.  Looking to the future with the advancement of technology the ecological system will continue to be negatively impacted.

Planet Earth is speaking to us and letting us know that a change is mandatory. We have to work together as a nation and planet to stop the impact of industrial and technological growth that’s occurred over the last 150 years. Finally, I am not against progress but humankind must be kinder to the planet.

What is your opinion on what we can each do to reduce negative impacts on the ecology?

Sources: NPR.org and metrolyrics.com

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SC STATEWIDE PRIMARY ELECTIONS


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I will not go into a long drawn out message. Today in South Carolina are statewide primary elections for both major political parties. Go to http://www.scvotes.org to find your polling place and see & print a copy of your sample ballot as well as other details.

REMEMBER your vote is your voice…don’t stay silent.

I will let this simple poem I wrote today speak my passion.

Why I Vote
by: Joyce M. Rose-Harris

I vote because they couldn’t…I vote because they were lynched….I vote because crosses were burned…I vote because they fought….I vote because they marched….I vote because they died….I vote because it’s my duty….I vote because I can.

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Dear NPR Executives


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SpeakUp SpeakOutIn the blog post Do We Care?, I hit on the main points of financially supporting public radio and television.  However, when you are disappointed in any organization whether it is an elected official, retail business, or a public radio broadcast group, it is important to speak up and speak out.  Below is the letter I submitted via NPR.org.  If you are as hopping mad as I am than you should go to NPR.org and SPEAK UP and SPEAK OUT!!!

Dear Executives:

I am very disappointed in today’s news of ‘Tell Me More’ being cancelled effective August 1st. I support both my local public radio station in Columbia, SC WLTR and my hometown station Chicago, IL WBEZ. I give to help with a nominal amount of $15 monthly for an annual $180 to WBEZ because I love my hometown. So I come to you not merely as someone with a compliant but someone who does support if only in a small way.

I believe that you have gotten it wrong choosing to cancel a show, I believe the only show specifically marketed to the African American community by NPR. I have written my initial disappointment in the form of a blog via http://paisleyperspective.com. The focus initially was the need to support public radio, however, I believe public radio must also support diversity. I understand the reality that often decisions come down to dollars and cents but sometimes it has to be more than the money.

i support public radio and television because of the vision to think outside the norm. This is done with some shows such as ‘Car Talk’ and ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ but why with its EXCELLENT content did ‘Tell Me More’ not make the cut. As an African American listener I need diversity and shows that speak to me and my experiences in an intelligent insightful way. Finally, what if anything can I a listener do to make you the big wigs change your mind?

Sincerely
Joyce M. Rose-Harris
NPR Subscriber & NPR Listens Contributor

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Do We Care?


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Today, I learned that one of my favorite National Public Radio (NPR) shows, Tell Me More will be taken off the air August 1st.  In addition to cancellation of the show there are 28 positions that are being eliminated.

As reported by NPRs The Two-Way, “These times require that we organize ourselves in different ways and that we’re smarter about how we address the different platforms that we reach our audiences on,” NPR Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson said. “We’re trying to make the most of the resources that we have and ensure that we keep radio healthy and try to develop audience in the digital arena.”

WBEZ Gift BagThe content of Tell Me More is geared toward discussion of issues primarily in the African American community.  There are also topics that span other ethnic communities.  The host Michele Martin brings topics to the listening audience that spread across many spectrum from issues regarding education, the economy to topics about poetry and the arts.  One popular segment the Barbershop discussed weekly news items that impact the African American community.

I give to my local (WLTR) and hometown (WBEZ) public radio stations but wonder if I could give more.  I know that my NPR subscription is a tiny percentage in the big picture but put with others it does make a difference.  There has been increased discussion of what each individual citizen’s responsibility is to society.  We understand immediate human needs but when it comes to intellectual needs we seem to miss the mark.

While volunteering during the United States Post Office “Stamp Out Hunger” campaign on May 10th, I was encourage by the postal trucks returning packed with non-perishable food items.  I saw that people do still care.  Hunger is something that we all understand, we require food and water to survive.  But do we need public radio and public TV to survive?  My answer is YES!

My generation born during the 1960s were raised on Electric Company, Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and my favorite ZOOM.  Who can give me the ZOOM mailing address?  Give up it is PO Box 350, Boston, MASS 02134.  Sure this was the time when the most interesting electronic device besides the huge turntable console (you know the thing that played vinyl records) was the television.  There were no iPhones, iPods, iPads, CD players, portable cassette players and not even 8-tracks (google it).

My point is we have to care about public radio and television.  There is still a need for it in our society to help educate, motivate, and encourage knowledge.  Without knowledge we are extinct.  Each society is supposedly more intelligent more insightful than previous ones but maybe we aren’t especially if we allow a program like Tell Me More to leave the airwaves.

Sadly when we look for solutions most times it turns back to money.  So with that I encourage you to give to your local public broadcast networks.  Let’s keep shows of substance and importance on  the airwaves.

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Mother’s Day Musings


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Mother's Day 2014Mother’s Day use to be one of my of my favorite days, until 2011.  This is the year that my mom passed.  I still had my grandmother to be with and love; however, not having my mom that first Mother’s Day was and is still painful.  My grandmother passed a few weeks after Mother’s Day 2011, so then I truly felt like a motherless child.

My husband’s mother passed in 1993, so he too feels pangs of loss during this holiday that celebrates mothers.  We attend church regularly but today we decided to remain home.  We regularly let the mother figures in our lives know they are appreciated but this particular day still brings a bevy of emotions.

Last year I set up a Facebook page titled “In Memory of Mom”.  The purpose is to honor our mother’s memories by donating to their favorite charities.  Or donating to a cause for which they were passionate.   I didn’t promote the page this year but I do encourage those whose mother’s have passed to donate in their mother’s memory.

During this day, I am grateful for the woman from whose womb I came.  My mother was kind and loving with an awesome sense of humor.  I believe my love of art came from her and my penchant for discovering new places.  So today I choose not to be to sad but be blessed that I was loved.

How will you celebrate Mother’s Day?  Do you approach this day with trepidation or with happiness?

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Girls Around The World


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BringBackOurGirlsEvery girl on this planet  that we inhabit should be afforded the right to an education.  Every girl should be able to feel safe and not live in fear of being hurt or taken from their family.  A little over one and half weeks ago the news of 270 Nigerian girls, abducted from their school began to spread across social media.  But the news was not escalated to high priority status.

Facebook posts were read then re-posted along with re-tweets on Twitter.   However, what did those of us here in the United States do to escalate this issue?  Did we write or call our Senators or Congressperson?  Did we write letters to the editor or did we just say what a sad story?

Today it was reported that more Nigerian girls have been abducted by Boko Haram militants.  Finally today, the United States has sent a force of military, intelligence and law enforcement to assist in finding the abducted girls.  When a disaster whether natural or man-made occurs we as a human race respond quickly and show immediate empathy.

So again, I wonder why did it take so long for the news of these girls to escalate in the news?  A Malaysian plane disappears and there is constant coverage but 270 girls are taken and we barely blink.

During this digital age we should be better able to reduce or stop occurrences of human trafficking.  We must be more diligent about the safety of our girls worldwide who are being taken and abused at increasingly alarming rates.

For our daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, and future mothers we must be aware and help to give voice to this plight.  To get more information about the campaign to find the abducted Nigerian girls follow the “Bring Back Our Girls” Facebook page.  On the page there is information of what you can do to help.

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Food Angels


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Food Angels

Food Angels

When I was a child my mom told me to always be kind to people, especially service workers.  People who worked in the kitchens and did janitorial work she said would always be helpful.  From time to time to make extra money she would do some light housework for a friend.  Her belief was that honest work was noble work.  Interestingly enough though, she made sure I understood the only job I had was to get good grades in school.

My mom’s advise paid off in college.  While attending University of Illinois at Chicago on a very tight budget, I never went hungry.  There was one particular lady named Theresa who usually worked in the InnerCircle in the Italian food area.  She had an uncanny way of knowing when I had only $2.00.  Many times I would get way more food then my $2.00 worth.  During the one time when I was flat broke, while leaving class I found a brand new crisp $20.00 bill.  I arrived to the food counter to find that Theresa was  on vacation for a week.  My faith in the good of people and the glory of God was solidified in that one moment.

Today, I gave a tangerine to a co-worker just because.  He usually brought fruit to work but today he had not.  I didn’t realize that he didn’t have any fruit, I just thought it would be nice to share.  When I went to lunch, I realized that much like Theresa I had a food angel.  The portion of food I received today allowed me to split my food into two portions.  I now have lunch for tomorrow.

Each month I give to various charities one in particular to help feed children.  Being kind to people that make an honest living was instilled in me by my mom.  In addition it is the right thing to do.  Life is precious we should always be kind to each other.

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With Humble Hands


Joyce M. Rose-Harris:

I have been trying to think of something new to say about my mom. Tuesday was the 3rd Anniversary of her death. Last year I stopped focusing on her passing and focused on the love she gave me and the energy of the love that surrounds me. However, I keep coming back to her humbleness and kind spirit. So with that being said, I am re-posting the blog from April 2013.

Originally posted on PaisleyPerspective:

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Pound Cake Love

Pound Cake Love

April 15, 2011 at 7:04am marked the last time, I communicated with my mother at least in the earthly realm.  She breathed her last breath sometime that morning.  But this blog post isn’t to reflect on her death; for that you can look at post from April and May of 2011.  Post made on April 15th as I indicated last year are to reflect on my mother’s life.  Her death has impacted me, however, the impact she had on me for almost 45 years is far more important.  Last year, I wrote about the love she shared with me and others.  This year, I kept thinking about her friends and others who knew her that said she was a humble Christian woman.  My mother’s Christian humility lead her to always do acts of kindness for family, friends, and even strangers (but really my mom never met a…

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Peace Be With You


Joyce M. Rose-Harris:

The search term that bring people to PaisleyPerspective the most often is “peace”. On 12/11/2011 I posted a blog reflecting on the concept of peace. During this month of February associated with love, I thought it would be nice to make it center stage again.

Originally posted on PaisleyPerspective:

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Early in our marriage, my husband and I decided to continue attending our individual churches.  He is Catholic and I am Baptist, we figure different staircase same heaven.  We alternate taking time to attend each other’s church and after 19 years of marriage, it works for us.  One of the most enjoyable parts of visiting my husband’s parish is when the congregation shows signs of peace.  Shaking hands with those sitting near you is always interesting.  The common term said is “peace be with you”, where some have shortened the greeting to just “peace”.

Peace Be With You

I wonder how it would work outside of church to approach individuals and say “peace be with you”?  How would it be taken, would the response be “and peace be with you too”?  Or would people just run away from the crazy person offering signs of peace?  It seems like such a simple concept…

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Photo Collage: 2013 Year In Review


A photo often says more than a full written page.  In thinking through the the events important to me in 2013, I consolidated to four photo collages.  Family, Sorority, & Political Activism as well as some main news items are the pinnacle of my year.  So as promised in the 2013 Year In Review blog post here are the photos that reflect what was important to me in 2013.

Family growth, new sisters, and niece.

Celebrating 21 years of happy marriage. – Family growth, new sisters, and niece.

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Celebrating 100 years of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Celebrating 100 years of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

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Actively working to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Actively working to be the change I wish to see in the world.

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Some news makers: the late Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis, Affordable Care Act, & 2014 U.S. Budget Passes

Some news makers: the late Nelson Mandela, Pope Francis, Affordable Care Act, & 2014 U.S. Budget Passes

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2013 Year In Review


Today marks PaisleyPerspective.com 3rd Anniversary with the first post being January 1, 2011.  The first month there were 507 views, December 2013 there were 1,410 views with a total over the three years of 17,103 views.  I personally have gone through some life situations that have resulted in sporadic posting.  I hope to be more consistent with content focusing on creative and social aspects fitting under the theme of arts and social awareness.  Thank you to all those individuals worldwide, who have taken the time to stop by and read what I have shared.

2013 Year in ReviewDuring 2013, there were many news making situations that impacted the planet.  Some of my favorite include the election of a new and truly humble Pope.  Pope Francis has demonstrated sincerity and a kind non-judgmental heart with focus on helping the poor and not living on a pedestal.  He is a breath of fresh air for the Roman Catholic Church.  Another worldwide news making event was the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela.  Tata (Father) Madiba was not only special to his native country but to the world.  He was just as much our father and our leader as he was South Africa’s.  Though some seek to look at the negative it is most certainly his revolutionary spirit post imprisonment that endures him to us.  He chose to fight an intelligent fight with forgiveness & reconciliation at the forefront.  You can read a post from June (click here) for more on my feelings about the late Nelson Mandela.

Within the United States a significant news item was the rollout of the Affordable Health Care Act, there was a rocky start but there is an estimate of 1.1 million U.S. citizens having signed up for health care coverage.  This is something that PaisleyPerspective will continue to blog on, so keep an eye out for future blogs.  One of the most significant politically related items was tweeted by The White House on December 18th, “Obama: “For the first time in years, both parties in both houses of Congress have come together to pass a budget.” http://go.wh.gov/naeG4W”.  There are so many more news stories that I could discuss but these four: installation of Pope Francis; death of Nelson Mandela; launch of the Affordable Health Care Act; and U.S. Congress passing a budget, stand out for me.  Now let’s look at what my year was like on a personal highlight reel.

Looking back, 2013 was a pretty good year for me personally.  I didn’t realize all the different things that occurred during the year that I partook in but there were quite a few.  I have tried to do them in a sort of top 10 order but that was difficult so here they are overall in chronological order.  A later post will display in a photo blog the various highlights personal and national that was most important to me in 2013.

Celebrating 100th year of my beloved sorority Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Attending the 57th Presidential Inauguration for President Barack Obama

Attending a White House Policy Briefing and Touring the White House

Attending the 51st National Convention for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Getting a Library of Congress Reader Card and Visiting the Reading Room

Visiting the U.S. Senate Gallery while Senator Harry Reid had the floor.

Attending a Sunday service at the Washington National Cathedral.

Celebrating my 21st Wedding Anniversary

Presenting Key to the City of Columbia to Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Expansion of family with addition of two sister-in-laws and a beautiful niece.

Well now 2013 is behind us.  I believe it is important to look back but not to stay in the past.  Let us not dwell too much on what happened last year but let’s take the lessons learned into 2014.  PaisleyPerspective.com wishes you and yours a Happy & Prosperous New Year!

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“Kidney By Christmas” to Support Transplant for Mayor Julia Nelson


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Mayor Julia Nelson

Contributed by: Leshia Lutsey, CEO of Creative Concepts, LLC

Manning, S.C. – “Kidney By Christmas”, a statewide outreach campaign, has kicked off in order to support Mayor Julia Nelson of Manning, S.C. After suffering for many years with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), Mayor Nelson learned in late November that her condition had worsened and is now deemed as fragile. Due to the serious nature of her diagnosis, she is in immediate need of a kidney transplant. In addition, due to the genetic nature of the illness, none of Nelson’s siblings are viable candidates for a kidney donation.

Julia Nelson has devoted her life to helping others across the state of South Carolina and now there is an open call to the community at-large to step up and help Julia, someone who is very deserving. Community members can “pay it forward” and help support the campaign in various ways:

1. Become a kidney donation candidate – this will involve volunteering to be evaluated by a physician, at no expense to the candidate, and if the individual is found to be a healthy donor (without high blood pressure or diabetes and between the ages of 18 and 62) then the donation process can begin

2. Make a monetary donation to the Nelson Transplant Fund at any local NBSC bank or donations can be sent to the following:
Nelson Transplant Fund
C/O NBSC
111 West Boyce Street
Manning, SC 29102

3. In-kind donations from the business community – these donations may include sponsors/ planners for fundraising initiatives; printing services; advertising; venues for fundraising events; etc.

Time is of the essence and the primary goal of the campaign is to get a selfless, kind-hearted individual to donate a “Kidney by Christmas”. As this process is underway, financial donations are needed as well to help with personal and medical expenses related to the kidney transplant for Julia Nelson.

During this season of giving, please find it in your heart today to help with this worthy cause and share this information with others. As a caring community, let’s come together this holiday season to help Julia Nelson, a devoted mom and a dedicated servant leader, in her time of need just as she has helped so many others who needed help.

For more information send an email to kidneybychristmas@aol.com.

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Still Striving To Overcome


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Today commemorates the 50th Anniversary of what is now called ‘March on Washington’. In 1963 the event was advertised as ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’. It was organized by a collaboration of leaders across various social and civic activist organizations. The march was decades in the making, even before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In the 1940′s A. Philip Randolph who was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as well as a leader in other organizations was one of the key organizers in the early March on Washington Movement. Yes that is correct as early as 1941 the idea of protesting in Washington, D.C. was formed and probably even earlier.

March on Washington for Job's & Freedom

March on Washington for Job’s & Freedom

Planning for the march that came to fruition began in December 1962. It is estimated that 250,000 participated in the march with 60,000 present being non-African American. Just as with the election of President Obama it took all people to make progress occur, those most impacted and those who believed in equality for every human-being. A group was formed named the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership with the focus of funding and messaging, this was indeed a well-orchestrated event as we now know. The primary leaders known now as the ‘Big Six’ were A. Philip Randolph, James Farmer (president of the Congress of Racial Equality), John Lewis (chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference), Roy Wilkins (president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and Whitney Young (president of the Urban League). The youngest of this group Lewis was 23 years old in 1963 with Randolph being the elder. For many the march was considered a radically dangerous idea. The day prior to the event the sound system was destroyed by vandals, however, with the push of the importance of keeping order it was rebuilt by the Army Corp of Engineers in one night. There were a massive number of law enforcement to not only keep order but to protect the participants of the march.

The march is one of the brightest beacons from the civil rights movement but as indicated it was long in the making. Women and youth were pivotal in the movement as well. Most know the Rosa Parks’ story, but she was not the first woman to be arrested for not giving up her seat on a city bus to a white male passenger, however, it was her story that helped light the torch of hope for a movement. Stemming from Mrs. Parks arrest was one of the longest protests, the Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 384 days spanning December 1, 1955 to December 20, 1956. Though Mrs. Parks and many others were adults the civil rights movement was also carried by students. Determined young people marched in local protest against unfair Jim Crow laws but most historically protested the unfair practices of stores like Woolworth’s by doing lunch counter sit-ins.

It may never be known how many lives were lost as a direct relation to the civil rights movement, such as Medgar Evers murdered just months before the march. What also must be remembered are tragedies such as the church bombing, killing four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama and the murder of the three Freedom Riders in Mississippi which came after the March on Washington. Most importantly the deaths of those fighting for civil rights and equality including Dr. King help to remind us the importance of the event on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The “I Have A Dream” speech gave the movement a clearly defined leader; one who didn’t reach his 40th birthday but the movement included every day people. With recent incidents in the 21st century including the shooting death of an unarmed 17 year old Trayvon Martin by a vigilante and most recently the shooting of an unarmed man on his property by police, remind us that the color of our skin is still a determining factor by some of our fate. In addition across a number of states run by Republican governors unfair and illogical voter protection legislation has been enacted.

Yes, today is a good time to remember an event that occurred 50 years ago but African Americans must continue to forge toward the dream that Dr. King spoke about. Some rights have been gained but there is still a disproportionate amount of African Americans in poverty and trying to make it day to day. In addition the opportunities for a four year college degree is a greater struggle. We can’t stop now we must keep marching to ensure 50 years from now we can celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ with full equality gained. When no one is judged by the color of their skin nor other outward appearance but truly by the content of their character, only then we will have reached the mountain top.

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Back To School


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My very first day of school, specifically pre-school was well over 4 decades ago.  However, I remember it and each milestone first day from then on.  But the most significant day that sticks with me is my first day of high school.  I remember shopping for the all-important high school wardrobe in South Carolina, during summer vacation while visiting my grandparents.  I had the luck of a grandmother who was fashion forward and kept up with the latest trends, so it was easy to recreate some of the pages of my favorite magazine, Seventeen.  Back home in Chicago with my closet filled and organized with the perfect pieces and new shoes and boots, I felt prepared to venture into the world of high school.

Flashback

High School Memories

In addition to the perfect garments you must have the latest hair style and perfect make-up.  Well at least that is what a 14 year old me thought at the time.  I remember practicing and practicing my make-up every day.  A little bit of eye shadow, and some blush with a little bit of lipstick.  Not too much just enough.  I had the make-up perfect and the Saturday prior to school, I had the perfect hairstyle a modified Farrah Fawcett flip (remember it was the end of the 70’s).  Up early on that first day…very early since I had about a 1 ½ hour commute from the West Side of Chicago to the South Side, I began to prepare.  I remember layering on makeup a little more than I had practiced (it didn’t dawn on me that it was dawn).  My perfect outfit was a muted mint green sweater set that had matching pants. Underneath I wore a white Peter Pan blouse, I looked like I stepped out of the pages of Seventeen.

During my journey carrying my brand new bookbag and looking what I thought was like a grown up, I took the stares from other passengers on the L-train as a compliment.  For me to get to school it required either two buses and then L-train or two different L-train lines and one bus.  Upon finally descending the steps at 63rd and Stony Island (which is no longer a stop or line), I was pushed a little in the hustle and bustle.  A fellow male classmate who ended up being in my division room turned and asked, “Was I a clown?”  Shocked, I responded with “that was mean.”  He said, “I’m sorry but your cheeks are red like a clown.”  Once in the school I dipped into a restroom and to my horror saw that he was correct in his comments.  I realized at that point that good lightening was better for applying make-up and that I would never wear it again.

In addition to my make-up revealing my freshman status, my outfit also shouted freshy, freshy, freshy.  I realized that most people didn’t wear their new clothes on the first day of classes.  And if they did the new clothes didn’t look new.  Being an only child these are tips that I didn’t learn from an older sibling but soon under the guidance of fellow classmates learned the tools to make it through high school.  Even though my first day of high school had some moments where I wanted to crawl into a hole, I survived.  Soon I began to make what would become lifetime friendships and memories.  My first day as you can tell was etched in my mind but didn’t change who I am.

Around the United States today was the first day of school.  Whether primary, middle, high school or even college the first day of classes is a special time.  It is a time to meet new friends and learn new subjects.  To anyone starting a new endeavor whether in school or career go into it with gusto and take in all that your new experience has to offer.  Also, remember to plan out that perfect outfit that makes you feel your best.

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My Thoughts on the Zimmerman Verdict


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Peace March for TrayvonSince the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012 there have been many lives of African American young men taken to soon.  We see this in Chicago, IL alone where in 2012 where a significant number of the 500 homicides impacted them.  However, I like so many across the country and even around the world are frustrated by the Zimmerman verdict of not guilty.  Quite simply Trayvon Martin was profiled by Zimmerman; Trayvon wasn’t armed and only had a bag of skittles and an iced tea; wearing a hoodie to stay warm and dry.  Zimmerman was instructed by the 9-1-1 operator to remain in his vehicle and chose to disobey this order.  By exiting his vehicle he displayed one disobedience and two intent to possibly cause harm to a young man merely walking home. I respect the legal process but there was no justice for the Martin family in the not guilty verdict.

Today, President Obama spoke prior to today’s afternoon White House Press Briefing and said much of what has been on my mind.  As an African American woman when I was younger and even today have been followed while shopping in a high-end department store.  And even eyed suspiciously when on an elevator with other races.  Sadly, sometimes it occurs often enough that you don’t notice the nervousness of those around you but it doesn’t make it right.  I am saddened that as we approach the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. King delivered his famous “I Had Dream” speech there are still racial hurdles to overcome.

During a recent visit in Washington, DC, I was asked by quite a few non African Americans about my opinion of the Zimmerman verdict.  Many races including Caucasian and immigrants stated they were shocked by the verdict,  Specifically the men didn’t understand how the jury could let Zimmerman walk.  They like me believed him leaving his vehicle was enough to show intent to do harm to Trayvon Martin.  It was often stated that this young man whose life was taken was probably not perfect but on February 26, 2012 he was simply a 17 year old walking home. These conversations and the peaceful protests around the nation’s capital and across the nation give me hope that though justice wasn’t served that more eyes are open to the racial injustices that still exist today.

In Columbia, SC and around the country there are peaceful protests against the verdict that will occur on Saturday.  The protest will begin at 10:00 am at the State House on the Gervais Street side.  There will be community activist and elected officials in attendance.  Peaceful protests and continued discussion can bring change, so consider attending.  Click here to learn more about this event.

Finally, President Obama spoke well on what the verdict meant to many African Americans, why we are angry over justice not being served.  Rather than me summarizing what he said, below you can read the transcript or you can watch the video below from the White House press briefing.

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Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin*

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:33 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session.  The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week — the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.  I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday.  But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case — I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.  The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner.  The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.  The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.  And once the jury has spoken, that’s how our system works.  But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.  And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.  And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.  The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.  And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.  It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.  They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.  And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.  So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys.  But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this?  How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?  I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent.  If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.  But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do.

I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here.  Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code.  And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive.  So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things.  One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped.  But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law.  And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive.  And I think a lot of them would be.  And let’s figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “stand your ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project — we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.  And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about.  There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I’m not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.  I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I’ve got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front.  And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.  And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching.  There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race.  I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.  They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.  On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?  Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character?  That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.  Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.  It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society.  It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.  But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are — they’re better than we were — on these issues.  And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues.  And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.  But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Thank you, guys.

END
1:52 P.M. EDT

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*Source: Whitehouse.gov

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My Thoughts on Supreme Court Ruling, Shelby v. Holder


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Broken Justice

Broken Justice

This is being written from the gut, it may be revised on a later date but today it is how I feel.  Tuesday, June 25, 2013 on what would have been my maternal grandmother’s 93rd birthday, I was saddened by the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.  The highest court of the land upheld the decision in Shelby County, Alabama vs. Holder, Attorney General, et. al that section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional.  In summary what this means is that some specific states and counties primarily in the south can now make changes to their states laws with regard to voting rights without oversight of the U.S Justice Department.  The problem with this is best stated in Justice Ginsburg’s written dissent “Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake proofed, places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination.”

On Monday, June 24, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case regarding Affirmative Action practices in universities back to the lower court.  Both this and the ruling on Voting Rights Act which I should state was 5 to 4 make it seem that the United States has been cured of all that ails it.  Yesterday in discussing validity of Affirmative Action, I described it as follows.  A person who has a hypertension that is controlled by medicine, may think that because they have no negative symptoms, they can stop taking medication.  However upon stopping their daily heart medicine the symptoms, which they had as well as higher blood pressure will ultimately return.  The educational and vote suppressing symptoms of racism still exist and more so in Southern states, we as country are not yet healed.

When we forget the mistakes of our past we increase the chance of repeating them in our future.  Medgar Evers; Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr; James Chaney; Andrew Goodman; Michael Schwerner and so many more individuals’ lives were lost fighting for voting rights for all citizens.  I thought of them when I learned of the ruling by the court and my heart ached.  There are those who may honestly believe that blatant racism is a thing of the past but I believe it very much does still exist.  There is a need for oversight of some states and I don’t think it will be long before this is evident.  It is now the task of the U.S. Congress to ensure that voting rights for all citizens wherever they reside is kept in place.  If you follow my blog then you know my overall beliefs and I ask you to contact your Senator and Congressman demanding the need for Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution until proven otherwise.

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My Granddaddy Hamilton


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Today is the day when we celebrate father’s in the United States. I’ve highlighted my dad in past Father’s Day inspired post but today I am paying homage specifically to my granddaddy Hamilton. Due to various reasons, which I choose not to discuss today I had four grandfathers but granddaddy Hamilton was at the top of the list. A retired primary school principal, he dedicated over 40 years to the education of children.

Granddaddy Hamilton & Me

Granddaddy Hamilton & Me*

In 1996 after my granddaddy had a heart attack scare as well as a very cold Chicago winter my husband and I decided to relocate to South Carolina.  During the six months that I lived with him, I learned a lot about what made him the man he’d become. Upon his death just months shy of his 95th birthday, over the years he’d received a minimum of 33 awards including the esteemed Silver Beaver Award given for over 50 years of dedicated service with the Boy Scouts of America and an Honorary Doctorate of Education from Morris College in Sumter, SC. However one of the most interesting things I learned about him was that he played Hamlet in college while attending Temple University. This was revealed while in the middle of watching a PBS program, he began to recite Shakespeare.

Another fun fact was that he always wanted to be a medical doctor but didn’t have the money for medical school. I remember telling him that as an educator he probably touched more lives than he would have done as a physician. Outside of the Silver Beaver and Doctorate, among the numerous awards he received some of the most prestigious and special were the Jefferson Award for Public Service given in Washington, DC; and the South Carolina Order of the Crescent for being the longest person to serve, on any county district school board.  My granddaddy took his first plane ride at the age of 91 to receive the Jefferson Award.

Some of the best advice I have received came from my granddaddy Hamilton. One of the main things he told me was that it is part of my legacy to be socially  involved but the most important things I do will come via invitation. I have found this advice to be very true,specifically dealing with my political activism and most recently joining the Corporate Responsibility Council associated with my employer. I am blessed to have been raised in a two parent household having the benefit of a loving dad; but the love and example of my granddaddy has also helped make me the woman I am today.

~

THE INTERVIEW

.

My teacher said, “she has taught all she knows,

time for me to get more learning down the road.”

.

Papa packed the truck with one suitcase;

Mama made me lunch with a weepy face.

.

Uncle and Auntie welcomed me openly,

it was nice to have my own bed even if lumpy.

.

Next morning woke up early to make first bell;

day one sped by and life seemed like it was going well.

.

Came home to a house filled with emptiness;

felt alone sitting on the stoop in despair and distress.

.

Shopkeeper walked by and listened to my plight,

he and his wife offered me a place for the night.

.

Night turned to days; days went into weeks;

six years later, all degree classes were complete.

.

The world welcomed me with open arms,

I met a girl whom I courted and charmed.

.

My beautiful girl agreed to be my wife,

new house, new baby we had a good life.

.

Educated the young and helped fight

incognito for human freedom and civil rights.

.

Worshiped and honored the Lord above,

I cannot think of anything I was devoid of.

.

After striving to be a good humanitarian,

I aim to make my next stop a heavenly destination.

by: J.M. Rose-Harris (c) 2011

~~~

*Photo Credits: All photos property of the author.

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For Nelson Mandela


~~~

Mandela Collage

Mandela Collage

As a high school student, I was  made aware of the conditions in South Africa upon reading “All Things Fall Apart” written by Chinua Achebe’s. It was the first time I heard the word apartheid but it would be a few years later before I truly understood what apartheid meant. While attending the University of Illinois at Chicago then known as Circle Campus, I joined the Black Student Union. Having gone through my post-secondary education in primarily African American populated schools, I had to get use to such a diverse ethnic population in college. It was as a member of the BSU that I learned more about apartheid and the unjustly incarceration of Nelson Mandela.

During a time when I was just becoming actively involved in social and civic justice, there was no social media in addition it would be a decade before the Internet was a standard in homes. I wasn’t even knowledgeable about letter to the editor campaigns or how to get earned press for rallies or protest demonstrations. There were poorly attended meetings and even less attended protest rallies. Eventually, I moved on to other organizations but still prayed for the freedom of Nelson Mandela.

In 1990 the same year I earned my undergraduate degree there was serious talk of Nelson Mandela being set free. My wardrobe included t-shirts with Keith Haring artwork such as the one pictured here that had “Free South Africa”. The black and white t-shirts with splashes of red were simple but still made a bold statement. T-shirts from 1960 through the 80′s were the equivalent of social media sites today. You often could tell a persons social stance by the slogan on their t-shirt or the buttons they wore. One day in class bored with doodling, I started scribbling some poetry verses. One of my oldest and favorite poems was born “African Dancer”, inspired by Nelson Mandela.

Keith Haring Artwork

Keith Haring Artwork

I was born right in the middle of the 1960′s, I was a toddler during the assassinations of Rev. Dr. King and Sen. Robert Kennedy and a pre-schooler when astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I wasn’t aware of the protest of the Vietnam War or what it meant but I was old enough to understand the importance of Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon. I recall my fascination with a peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia becoming President even though it would be later I learned he was also a brilliant Nuclear Engineer. I also had the opportunity to cast my vote for a Democratic ticket with the first female Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro as well as for the first black man elected mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington. All of these things happened prior to February 11, 1990, the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years. Still to this day, I consider the release of Nelson Mandela as one of the most important moments in my lifetime. The only thing that compares to it is November 4, 2008 when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

My reflections come as I realize the closest, I will ever come to meeting one of my all time heroes is by two degrees of separation from First Lady Michelle Obama. I am a proud supporter of the First Lady but one of the few times I felt envy was during her trip a little while ago to South Africa, where she met with Nelson Mandela in his home. As of the posting of this blog the former South African President is hospitalized in the intensive care unit, he is reported to be in serous but stable condition. I fear, I will not meet him in this lifetime but I pray that some way he reads this post or it is read to him. If I had one thing to say to him it would be thank you for showing what true forgiveness means. You are not my hero because of surviving in the prison but for bringing peace upon your release.

~

AFRICAN DANCER
.
Drums beating in the wild.
Drums speaking.
Drums singing.
His feet moving pounding.
.
Dust is rising
but the dancer doesn’t care.
The feel of the drum beat
is all that matters.
Can you feel it?
Can you understand the speech?
Life of the African dancer
he and his feet
only these have meaning.
.
Sleeping, eating only get in the way.
He breathes to dance everyday.
His movements are all that matter.
The sun has come and gone.
The moon has come and gone.
But the dancer still dances
for the freedom of his people.
.
by: Joyce M. Rose (c) 1990

~~~

*Photo Credits: Public domain photos.

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Consequences


~~~

*Consequences-Bad & Good

*Consequences-Bad & Good

A recent local news story lead me to think about the consequences of our decisions, both good and bad. There was a tragic incident where a male teenager was arrested for felony DUI after his brother died in a car crash. I later learned from a person who knows the family well that the young man who died had a bright and happy personality. I don’t know what lead the older brother to decide to drive inebriated or the younger brother to get in the car, however, the consequence was death of a young person.  I can only speculate at the current and future anguish that is felt by the surviving brother and his family. A situation that could have been avoided may lead to even more poor decisions in the future, including more drinking or possibly other substance abuse. However, I hope that any guilt felt will lead to better and more responsible decision making.

Everything we do has consequences. Let me repeat that statement, EVERYTHING we do has consequences. Ironically we often don’t understand this when we are young, during a time when some choices can lead to a prosperous future. Investing and saving early in our 20′s and even younger can help us to have a good life in retirement. However we often think that we are young and there is plenty of time to invest. This is the case for buying property and other actions related to our future.

Something as simple as consistent exercise can help us to have a healthier future. Exercise doesn’t guarantee we will be disease free but it can reduce the probability of diseases related to obesity. There are multitudes of businesses built on the idea of quick and easy diets and weight loss. There is no magic pill, burning more calories than we consume is how we lose weight. Eat less and move more is the key.

One of my favorite movies is the now teen classic “The Breakfast Club”.  The movie centers around five teens required to serve Saturday detention. Though it may seem cliché the five main high school cliques are represented. There is the criminal, athlete, brain, basket case, and princess all in detention due to the circumstance of their actions. I will not give away the story for the youth of today and those living under a rock, who have not seen the movie. It is my belief like the book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten” implies, our core self is formed by the time we are five years old. However, we solidify this identity in our teen years and by the consequences of our actions.

Finally, it is easy to blame other people for our current circumstance, especially if we are in a low emotional place.  But most often where we are in life is due to decisions we made. I agree that there are other factors, such as luck or blessings. Still even these usually occur by our actions whether deciding to be in a particular place or kneeling and praying. Bottom line is if you are unhappy or seeking to change your situation understand the consequences that put you where you are and the consequences that will help change the situation.

~~~

*Photo Images: All images public domain

Chocolate Diversity


~~~

Chocolate Diversity

Chocolate Diversity*

While attending the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), I learned that my race didn’t dictate my grades. Hard work along with good professors (shout out to Professor Ein, now a Dept. Head) helped determine this fact. I earned a solid ‘A’ in one of the toughest mathematics courses at UIC, differential equations. Diffy Q as we called it was a make it or break it class for students aspiring to major in architecture, science, engineering or mathematics. For those who took Calculus in their freshman year, diffy Q was the first math class in sophomore year. Looking back, I realize it may have been a mixed blessing that I had low college entrance exam scores in math, therefore having to take some pre-reqs prior to Calculus. However, my slow start was soon irrelevant because as the only black student and female in my class I earned a 98% on assignments, quizzes, and test.

While employed at a previous job, I had a co-worker who always complimented me on how I answered the telephone. “You answer the phone so well. You’re always professional”, she would frequently say. I would politely say, “thank you” and roll my eyes when her back was turned. I wanted to respond with “how else should a college-educated person with intelligent parents and retired school principals for grandparents, suppose to answer the phone?” I never once heard her say this to non-black co-workers. My co-worker wasn’t the first person to make a comment regarding my phone etiquette. While a teen-ager one of my father’s friends mistook me for a “white woman” when I answered our home phone. In my home and my grandparents home, I was taught to answer the phone by saying “hello, Hamilton residence” or say whomever’s residence was appropriate.

I must give credit to the person who unknowingly inspired this blog post, Wayne Brady. Yes that’s correct the current host of “Let’s Make A Deal” game show and master of improvisational comedy as well as singer and dancer. I recently saw Mr. Brady on a segment of the CBS Morning Show, where he responded to comments about not being “black enough”. Because I do not want to misquote him, click here to view the video. What I will say is like him, I too was the kid who stayed in the house reading books and watching PBS. I don’t know when, why or how striving for knowledge and being diverse with regard to culture equates to being white. What I do know is that this black woman with her head held high, degree in Applied Mathematics; political and community activism; poetess self in addition to a laugh you under the table sense of humor, “really don’t care whatcha think.”

~~~

*Photo credits: Clockwise starting upper left: 1. Wayne Brady courtesy of WayneBrady.com 2. Barack Obama (c) 2007 courtesy of the author 3. Colin Powell public domain 4. Joyce M Rose-Harris and Richard (Prof. Griff) Griffin (c) 2012 courtesy of the author 5. Michelle Obama (c) 2007 courtesy of the author

Remembering Louise’s Last Days


~~~

My Grannie

My Grannie bka Pretty Lady

My grandmother stood approximately six feet tall prior to aging taking its toll on her body. When I was a child she was a little intimidating and a very no nonsense person. She showed loved in straight-forward ways just like her personality. Her favorite way of showing she cared was through feeding you. My grandmother could cook the best chef up under the floor tiles, let alone the table. When I was in my twenties she gave me a music box that was made to hold scented body powder. It was one of my favorite things to play with on her dresser and she wanted me to enjoy it while she was alive. During her senior years when time was wearing down on her statuesque frame, she gave me her old photos. I did not want to think about a time when she wouldn’t be with me but she understood that one day she would pass on.

Two years ago, today May 23rd my grandmother breathed her last breath. She was hospitalized for a week due to pneumonia. It seemed odd to develop this condition in May a fairly warm month in South Carolina but she did. Some people believe grief is carried in the lungs and six weeks prior to my grandmothers death her only child, my mother had died. One of the hardest things, I have ever done was tell my grandmother her only child was dead. From that point on my grandmother who due to my mother’s illness was put into a nursing facility, began to shrink away.

Two days before she died my grandmother was sitting up in her hospital bed. It was as though she had never been sick. And I thought she would be discharged in a day or two. Her roaring laugh was good and strong, she didn’t need oxygen much and she was alert watching television with me. I had just seen her with my husband on Friday and she was not very responsive but on this day she was doing great. We laughed at some of the remembrances of my mom and just different things about life. She wanted me to bring some hair oil for her scalp. When I left that Saturday evening, we exchanged her favorite farewell saying, I started with “I love you a bushel and a peck” and she responded with “and a hug around the neck.”

On Sunday after church carrying flowers, hair brush, and hair oil I bounced into her room. I was greeted with doctors and nurses working on her trying to make her comfortable. They all wore a look of concern on their faces and I heard the words “she is DNR” whispered. I almost dropped the glass vase of flowers I held. When they stepped away from the bed there was a very swollen woman you was retaining excessive fluid. Literally in less than 24 hours my grandmother had turned for the worst. I left and called my husband, telling him that he needed to come today if he wanted to see her and say his good-byes. I called a few other people too. When I had gone to the cafeteria with my godmother, my grandmother seemed to come out of her semi coma. She was talking to my husband. He later advised that it was a surreal moment.

The next day I stopped by the hospital before going to work. My grandmother was sleeping soundly. I don’t recall if I kissed her but I do remember whispering “that her decision to remain here was between her and God.” My heart ached at the thought of her dying so soon after my mother’s death but the last thing I wanted was for my grandmother to continue to suffer. My intent was to print and bring back work with me in order to work offsite. Early that afternoon, I received a phone call from her doctor who really never said she had died but I knew from his tone. Some kind of way I made the one and a half hour drive. Hoping to see her before the funeral home came and took her body away, I went into the little ICU room where she lay. I removed the sheet to see that my dear grandmother was now zipped up tight. It still hurts my heart that I wasn’t there when she breathed her last breath. However, she wasn’t alone cousins were there with her as she made her transition. They reported that she was laughing and talking to ancestors welcoming her to heaven.

~

To Grannie With Love

.

Statuesque beauty you stood tall

you will forever be loved by all.

.

From youth you spoke with honesty

not always concerned about diplomacy.

.

A heart filled with adventure and determination

you traveled far and wide to many a destination.

.

Provided advice to nieces and nephews;

equally tried to weigh both points of view.

.

Always gave with a loving heart,

for whatever asked you would easily part.

.

Filled the bellies of family and friends;

seemed like your love would never end.

.

When over time, life pulled down on your bones,

you sent up silent prayers refraining from bemoans.

.

Your prayers answered, angels came taking you home

where now you can freely dance, jump, and roam.

.

Even though those left behind have broken hearts,

we try to accept it was time for you to depart.

.

Our love for you will never decrease,

we now rejoice because you are at peace.

.

by: Joyce M. Rose-Harris (c) May 2011

~~~

Hair: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


~~~

People with bone straight hair want wavy or curly hair. People with curly or wavy hair want bone straight hair. Recently, I cut off my dreadlocs. There are other known ways to remove dreads or locs as sometimes called but I decided to cut mine. I let them grow out a little allowing for new growth and untwisted hair. I cut just below the new growth and after cutting approximately 95 locs I had a tinsy winsy afro (twa). Initially after cutting my locs I thought “WHAT HAVE I DONE!”  I calmed down after doing a good shampoo and deep conditioning my hair. This was until I took the mirror to check the thin area where I had increasing hair loss. My mirror revealed what I had noticed for some time there was scalp clearly visible.

Vanity peeked out taunting me and saying you looked better with the dreadlocs. Nobody is going to like you with short hair. But most of all what will Eric say? I had done my loc cutting late on a Friday and my husband had already gone to bed. I decided if in the morning, I still thought that I looked hideous, I would visit the wig shops near my house. Well, it has now been one month and I still haven’t been to a wig shop.

My New Look

My New Look

The Saturday morning after my big loc chop, my husband and I awoke together. We sat in bed talking and then he finally said, “okay let’s see it.”  I was hesitant to reveal my new look, mainly because my hair texture when dry has shrinkage (natural hair aficionados understand). I timidly pulled off my sleep cap and waited. After a little bit of time my husband said, “I like it.  It’s cute.” I breathed a sigh of relief not one to really care what others think, I did want my husband to at least like my new look. We both joked that he would have to get regular haircuts until I grew out my hair, so he wouldn’t have longer hair than me.

Before going on this new journey, I had done research. Just as I had done before I decided on dreadlocs a little over seven years ago. The most useful information I found is ironically called the LOC method. Liquid usually leave in conditioner, oil from bottle or spray, and cream to seal in moisture.  I was armed with a naturally made leave in conditioner and oil by my friend and former loc lady of Island Savvy Creations.  And after additional research purchased Taliah Waajid curly curl cream, which is amazing and provides excellent curl definition to my 4b/c hair. In doing the full LOC method that first Saturday morning, I had no additional regrets about cutting my dreadlocs.

I am happy to say that my edges which had prior thinning from braids as well as my thin area are both showing hair growth. I am being patient and using hair follicle oil and a temple balm product by Dr. Miracle. I believe that keeping my hair moisture content high and using the follicle stimulating formulas, I will be just fine. It seems a little funny to use the term natural hair, however in the African American community there is an obsession with processed/relaxed hair, weaves/extensions or even wigs full and semi coverage. So in this the 21at century to some it is like running through the streets naked to go with our God given chemically unaltered hair.  A tinsy winsy afro isn’t for everybody but if you give it a try you might too be set free.

~~~

In Memory of Mom


~~~

My Mom

My Mom

Mother’s Day weekend is tough for me. When my mom was living, I would enjoy showering her with gifts this weekend. However, I didn’t wait until Mother’s Day to tell her I loved her or to treat her to dinner. Each month I would do something nice or maybe deposit a little surprise in her bank account. My mom was a good, kind, and loving person. She sacrificed for me when I was growing up and I believed it was the right thing to do, showing her that I appreciated all she had done for me.

This will be the third Mother’s Day without my mom. I decided that rather than focusing on being sad, I would honor her memory with an act of kindness and charity. Through my Facebook page I created an event titled ‘In Memory of Mom’. The idea behind it is for people whose moms have passed, to honor their mom’s memory by donating to their mom’s favorite charity, group, or organization during the Mother’s Day weekend. I will be donating to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and one of my sister-friends is donating to the American Stroke Association in memory of her mom.

It is normal to miss our loved ones and especially our mom during significant holidays. But if we are blessed to have been loved by a beautiful mother we must envelope sorrow in happy memories. If you are like me honor your mom’s memory by helping someone else. And if your mother is living show her love this weekend and always. Finally to all the mom’s out there I wish you a blessed and beautiful Mother’s Day.

~

Little Wooden Box

.

Encased in velvet lined pine,

memories lay dormant

coming to life when held;

sparking remembrances of laughter,

love and spankings for touching

treasures now left behind.

.

Silver ladybug no longer keeps time,

dangling from a tarnished chain

it’s priceless in mournful hands. Rings

once worn to announce engagements,

weddings and anniversaries clink

together seeking a finger to encircle.

.

Precious metals bring comfort

held against cheek. Carefully placing back

in box cherished mementos, a daughter’s

tears still fall, forming reflecting pool

puddles, remembering a mother’s vessel

that has long ago set its soul free.

.

by: Joyce M. Rose-Harris © 2013

~~~

From Whence We Come


~~~

Lawndale Community - Chicago, IL

Lawndale Community – Chicago, IL

I am the child of a mother who became pregnant at the age of 20. My father a few years older than my mother, on his own free will asked her to marry him. I never thought to ask my now deceased parents if they would have gotten married without the pregnancy.  I grew up on the west side of Chicago where we lived in two and three-story walk ups that consisted of four to six apartments. There was peeling linoleum floors and paint with leaks coming through outside walls. Our street had more vacant lots than it did buildings.  Although my parents had financial struggles brought on by various causes, I was raised in an overall stable two parent household.

I could have easily fallen in with the wrong group of people.  However, I had a street smart father who ensured that didn’t happen. My father was sometimes involved in activity that could have led to jail time. I believe my mother and I helped my father to change his focus from get rich schemes to more structured and stable behavior.

It is easy to blame the environment in which we are raised for our current condition, especially if we are struggling. When we are prosperous and successful we are less critical of our past. However we are a product of our environment, regardless of good or bad as children we are molded by the situations and conditions we face daily.

Jaime Harrison, SC Democratic Party Chair

Jaime Harrison, SC Democratic Party Chair

Saturday, May 4, 2013, I participated in history as a Delegate at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s 2013  State Convention, when Jaime Harrison was elected as the first African-American Chair. Even in this the 21st century African-American’s  still are making strides in being the first in many fields and areas of society.  The United States is a diverse nation made up of many races, Native-American; African-American; Caucasian; Hispanic; Asian and other ethnic backgrounds; but because of the discrimination still present, significant accomplishments among  minority groups is still applauded.  Such successes are even more important in the South, where Jim Crow laws prevailed; and where there is still an underlying current of discrimination.

Jaime Harrison, 37 was born to an unwed teen-age mother and raised by his grandmother in Orangeburg, SC.  He did not let the obstacles from his past hold him back from accomplishing success in the professional and personal aspects of his life.  If anything the struggles from his childhood helped propel him to success.  He is one of many people who show by example, it is not where you come from but where you choose to go in life.

Personally, I am doing better in life than my parents.  I am still seeking and striving to achieve various goals but I know that with focus, hard work, and help from others I have the potential and ability to achieve.  No matter how far from a goal you may be as long as you have breath, you have hope for success.

~~~

With Humble Hands


~~~

Pound Cake Love

Pound Cake Love

April 15, 2011 at 7:04am marked the last time, I communicated with my mother at least in the earthly realm.  She breathed her last breath sometime that morning.  But this blog post isn’t to reflect on her death; for that you can look at post from April and May of 2011.  Post made on April 15th as I indicated last year are to reflect on my mother’s life.  Her death has impacted me, however, the impact she had on me for almost 45 years is far more important.  Last year, I wrote about the love she shared with me and others.  This year, I kept thinking about her friends and others who knew her that said she was a humble Christian woman.  My mother’s Christian humility lead her to always do acts of kindness for family, friends, and even strangers (but really my mom never met a stranger).

One of the earliest memories that I have of my mother involves her making decorative pillows, she was always doing something creative.  The throw pillows she made were very detailed with pucker stitching to make interesting designs.  During this same time period when I was around 4 years old, she began to do color by number paintings, her skills were good enough that no one realized her art were paint by number paintings.  But my favorite childhood memory was when I was sick and she would check my forehead with her hand in order to gauge if I had a fever.  She would then take my temperature, I was always fascinated at how she could read the thin line of mercury (there were no digital thermometers).  Then she would either cradle me until I went to sleep or tucked me gently in bed when I was older.

A few years prior to her death my mom found her niche in our church, she began assisting with the Christmas live nativity scene and then the Easter presentation.  Her specialty was making angel wings.  The Sunday school superintendent had a vision for how she wanted the angel wings to look but she had difficulty explaining it.  My mother listened then asked for the materials that she needed.  Her creative skills came through as her hands gently began to form wires and feathers into beautiful angel wings.  The Sunday school superintendent joyfully would always say, “See Mrs. Betty always knows exactly what I need.” Anyone that knew my mom personally was more than likely a recipient at one time or another of a beautiful greeting card.  She bought cards in bulk to give out for any occasion whether birthdays, weddings, sympathy, get well, or just because she had a card.

Still one of my favorite things as an adult was when my mom would cook some of my favorite meals.  She loved shrimp and would fry up some with lemon pepper that would have rivaled any restaurant.  But one of her favorite things to do was bake pound cakes and make bread pudding.  She would bake bulk pound cake cupcakes to give one each day to my grandmother or to people as a treat.  If you were special enough you would receive a whole pound cake for your birthday of course along with one of the special cards.  However, other than me there was only one other person who was blessed to receive a bread pudding from her with pieces of peach.  Her bread pudding was so good, I wrote a poem about it, to read it.  One of the last things that my mother did was make a bread pudding the day before she died.  It was something so simple but that bread pudding was the last act of love from mother to child with humble hands ( click here to read the poem Bread Pudding Love).

~~~

Faithfully Yours


~~~

I intended to blog about something completely different, however my spirit lead me to the topic of faith.  This morning like millions of Christians around the planet, I attended church.  Today is the holiest days of Christianity, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of biblical scriptures.

After leaving church my husband and I went home.  I cooked a simple but nice Easter dinner of baked ham, baked sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts with bacon, southern macaroni & cheese, and hard rolls.  Happily, I finished cooking in time to pack my husband a nice lunch to eat at work (yes his job requires he work holidays).  After eating my dinner, I had planned to take a nap but my spirit said otherwise.

And In Sickness

And In Sickness

While sitting in my big comfy chair, I started to think about a friend whose wife is in the later stages of multiple sclerosis.  I had heard about her being hospitalized and have said prayers for them, recovery and healing for her, for him I prayed for strength.  It is interesting that through an unusual circumstance we became associates and I believe now friends.  Not the kind of friends who go hang out but the ones who see each other in various circles at work, church, or social/political functions.

Seeing my friend who is from my hometown and his wife together embody the “through health and in sickness” portion of traditional wedding vows.  My husband and I have each dealt with the other being hospitalized.  Most recently,  my husband is now dealing with various medical conditions.  However, my friend and his wife show strength beyond measure dealing with issues that couples in their 40′s don’t normally encounter.  Faithfully,  he is there being the primary caregiver for his beloved wife  in addition to working a full-time job and being active in his church.

Faithfully Yours

Faithfully Yours

Christians have not been promised that life would be without trials or tribulations.  The foundation of the Christian faith is based in part on the death of Jesus Christ, who died  for the sins of the world.  Quite simply if God’s son had to live as man and be falsely accused, we basic human beings should expect that we will have our own obstacles along the way.  Faith in God and Jesus Christ requires man to relinquish control and sometimes that is a difficult task.  But as Christians we must remember that our reward is not in  the earthly realm.   When there are trials and tribulations that shake our foundation, we must stand strong,   It is my belief, ultimately our faith will lead to eternal life because Jesus Christ was born, was crucified, died, buried and arose on the third day.  He lives, he lives, he lives today this Resurrection Day!

~~~

Leftovers


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Growing up on the West Side of Chicago it wasn’t until college that I learned I lived in one of the lowest income neighborhoods. Regardless of this fact, I was raised to believe having a roof over my head, food in my stomach as well as clothing on my back meant wealth. Another ah-ha moment in adulthood was after getting married; I realized a few months into my marriage that my husband and I thought differently about leftover food. Leftovers for me are pivotal in planning meals. Raised in a three person household meals were planned to stretch over two nights and one lunch portion for either my mom or dad.

When I moved out on my own I took the two meals and one lunch portion concept with me. However after I got married and expanded the amounts cooked, I noticed a significant increase in leftovers. Discussion with my husband determined that he was not a fan of leftovers. He grew up in a home with a working single mom who could stretch a dollar, she was creative at disguising leftovers. I tried this tactic but realized leftovers gave me comfort. For me leftovers didn’t equate to being poor it was a different form of abundance.

Like my late father I enjoy cooking and make meals I like to eat. I find it a treat to eat a delicious meal two days in a row. Yet above this I find it a blessing to have food to eat. As a child, I never went hungry. I hardly received punishments but when I did going to bed hungry wasn’t one of them. I later learned that as a child my dad sometimes did go to bed hungry but not as punishment. Also I learned that my mother had sacrificed for me going to bed sometimes only having eaten a can of peaches. It still breaks my heart when I think of my mom’s sacrifice but I also feel grateful for her abundant love.

Today, I went grocery shopping. My list was made with the two meals and a lunch portion idea in mind. My husband still is not a fan of left overs but he is better about eating them. He has realized that there are many people in the world who are hungry and would gladly eat leftovers to feed their hunger. I alone can’t feed the world but I can feed your mind with the message that leftovers aren’t so bad when you think of the alternative. Finally if you are able, make a donation to a food bank near you or one of these three organizations, click on the logos to be taken to their websites:

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Chicago Food Bank Logo

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Harvest Hope Food Bank

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Feeding America Logo~~~

Posh and Panache 2.0


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Most days when fashionistas look in their closets, they try to select the perfect outfit.  The garments we wear tell our stories.  Those stories start in the minds of designers who create garmets for us to wear.  Recently I attended Posh & Panache a pre-Columbia Fashion Week event in its second year sponsored by M2 Boutique located at 2317 Two Notch Rd in Columbia, SC.  The event included inspiring pieces from the racks of the M2 Boutique.  From the first outfit to hit the runaway we were drawn into a world of inspiring fashions.  There were blouses singing summer with flouncey fronts and creatively cut out backs.  Sleek business attire pieces and a beautiful delicate one piece dress disguised as two piece with a dazzling collar were headliners.
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The big surprise of the evening was when boutique co-owner Carissa Strickland announced her upcoming clothing line Ella Jo; paying homage to her mom.  She previewed two of her pieces one a unique train wrap piece that can be worn around the waist or as cape just to name a few.  In addition she previewed a cowl neck inspired blouse ready for any hot summer day.  Additional highlights of the evening were two designers in attendance, Karen Lewis of KTL Shoes and Kayla DeWelt of At First Sight Optical, LLC.  Both shoe and eyewear designs provided runway outfits with finishing touches.  With businesses like M2 Boutique and other designers of clothing and accessories  here in Famously Hot Columbia,  you can’t help but find fashion forward pieces for the upcoming sizzling summer days and nights.  Scroll down to see some of fashions and people.
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Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

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Carissa and Malik Co-Owners of M2 Boutique

Carissa and Malik Co-Owners of M2 Boutique

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Breezy Surpise

Breezy Surpise

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Fashionista & Designer

Fashionista & Designer

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Two Piece or Dress?

Two Piece or Dress?

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I TOO AM AMERICA…


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Last month my husband and I took our second journey to Washington, DC to be a part of events for the 57th Presidential Inauguration.  We were part of the millions of individuals who took over the district in 2008.   And after continually being active as part of  both campaigns and helping to move the Obama Administration’s agenda forward, we wanted to be present again.  Like 2008, I reserved a hotel room literally one full year before the inauguration, yes I had that much faith that President Obama would be re-elected.  And after serving as a National Delegate at the Democratic National Convention, I was even more confident.  It never occurred to me that he might loose and I might have to cancel the reservation.

During the journey along I-95, one of my favorite Langston Hughes poems came to mind.  It was actually one of the first poems I memorized.  The last line of the poem reads, “I, too, am America.”  This simple line reflected how I felt during a trip that involved volunteering at the Presidential Inaugural Committee Headquarters; visiting the Russell House Senate Office building; attending the Inauguration in a ticketed area; attending a ground breaking OFA Legacy Conference; attending a White House Policy Briefing for Community Leaders; touring the East Wing of the White House and ending with a visit to the Library of Congress.

For me it just seems right that I would have these opportunities in my nations capitol mainly because my ancestors made it possible.  I was raised to believe that any goal I chose to reach, I could achieve with hard work and God’s grace.  So it just seemed right that this part of what it was to be American specifically North American was my privilege and right.  Yes, I know the reality that there is still racism and ignorance within society but I strive to walk over and through it for I, too, am America.

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I, Too

by Langston Hughes

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I, too, sing America.

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I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

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Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.

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Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

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I, too, am America.

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Source: Poetry Foundation Website http://www.poetryfoundation.org

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A picture says a thousand words, so here are a few thousand to reflect on…

Golden 2013 Inauguration Tickets

Golden 2013 Inauguration Tickets

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Invitation to the 57th U.S. Presidential Inauguration

Invitation to the 57th U.S. Presidential Inauguration

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Best Mode of Transportation in DC

Best Mode of Transportation in DC

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Volunteering at the Presidential Inaugural Committee HQ

Volunteering at the Presidential Inaugural Committee HQ

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South Carolina Digital Desk for National Day of Service

South Carolina Digital Desk for National Day of Service

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Learning the Next Steps for OFA 3.0

Learning the Next Steps for OFA 3.0

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Friends and Fellows for Obama

Friends and Fellows for Obama

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Having Some Fun

Having Some Fun

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The Big Day

The Big Day

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In the Gold Ticket Area, Happy and Waiting

In the Gold Ticket Area, Happy and Waiting

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Hotel Right By Parade Route

Hotel Right By Parade Route

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My Proudest Photo - Taken with my iPhone

My Proudest Photo – Taken with my iPhone

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Learning at the White House Policy Briefing

Learning at the White House Policy Briefing

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Just Inside the East Wing

Just Inside the East Wing

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Looking Fondly Upon a Late Leader

Looking Fondly Upon a Late Leader

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Some of the South Carolina Team with President Clinton Looking Over Our Shoulder

Some of the South Carolina Team with President Clinton Looking Over Our Shoulder

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And We Got Cookies

And We Got Cookies

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A Cookie and a White House Thank You

A Cookie and a White House Thank You

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Library of Congress and the End of a Wonderful Trip

Library of Congress and the End of a Wonderful Trip

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All photos are property of the author.

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Interview: Organizer of Reel Black Pix Film Fest


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RBP FestivalPaisleyPerspective is dedicated to bringing interesting blogs about arts and social awareness. February means it is the time of year when Black History is highlighted.  Also in Columbia, SC it means it is time for the Reel Black Pix Film Festival, which is entering its 5th year.  Having been a participant from the beginning I wanted to provide a behind the scenes look at Reel Black Pix Film Festival with upcoming events starting this Thursday and going through Saturday.  PaisleyPerspective spoke with Sufia Giza-Amenwashu who with her husband Baba Seitu Amenwashu are organizers of the festival.

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PaisleyPerspective: Describe the purpose of the Reel Black Pix (RBP) Film Festival?

S. Giza-Amenwashu: HeTePu Productions is a non-profit organization that does media literacy, using art as a teaching tool. We produce the REEL Black Pix (RBP) primarily as a Black History month event to honor the legacy of our ancestors and to celebrate family. Secondly, it’s an attempt to promote authentic cultural diversity, through cinema & art, going beyond the normal ethnic festivals of food, fashion and fancy footwork.  We want to have an actual conversation and get to know people of other cultures vicariously, so to speak. Our motto is, at REEL Black Pix, you can travel the world without boarding a plane. In essence, the REEL Black Pix: Global Afrikan Film Series is a Pan-African Film & Cultural Arts Festival. It’s multi-dimensional to give an in depth glimpse into diverse cultures across the African diaspora.

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PaiselyPerspective: How did you come up with the concept of RBP?

S. Giza-Amenwashu: I’m originally from Southern California and grew up about an hour outside of Hollywood. I always loved the movies growing up. In 1996 I started producing and hosting a cable television show in South Central Los Angeles, SANKOFA Times TV, which over the 10 years of its production, made me see media images in a new light. In my analysis, I realized I didn’t see many positive images of African and African Descendant (Black) people on television, in film or print, so I decided to produce documentaries to both record Black culture & history; as well as, create affirming images of Black people. Filmmaking was somewhat of a natural evolution for me to use a larger canvas, in terms of the telling a story. In 2003, my first documentary, The SANKOFA Study: An Ethno-botanical Research Project on Medicinal Herbs of Tobago, WI screened at FESPACO Pan-African Film Festival in Burkina Faso, West Africa and at ECOFILM: International Environmental & Sustainable Development Film Fest in Paris, France. My second documentary, Toledo District Eco-Park: An Eco-Cultural Tour of Southern Belize screened here in Columbia at the 9th Native American Film Festival in 2006. My last one, REGGAE MILITIS, screened at the Nickelodeon Theater at the 2nd REEL Black Pix in 2010. I learned how to make films by producing television and learning every piece of equipment in the studio. Independent Filmmakers such as myself can’t get their work screened at lots of film fest for one reason or another. So RBP was also created to give filmmakers who like myself may not have spent tens of thousands of dollars to go to film school, but have quality works that just can’t get screened at other film festivals.

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PaisleyPerspective: What ages can attend RBP; do you have films/activities for adults & youth?

S. Giza-Amenwashu:  This years RBP will lean toward adults though in prior years we have had components for children, this may be done in the future or as a separate children’s festival.

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PaisleyPerspective: How do you find/select the films that you show during RBP and are you seeking specific genres of films?

S. Giza-Amenwashu: We put out an open call every year that runs till December 31. We list the RBP in Film Industry Journals & on Festival Registries. In recent years social media has been very effective, in fact, we have even received films via Facebook with one being a film by a Jewish professor of Women Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina about an North American artist, Mama C, who’s lived in Tanzania for the past 40 years. We are excited about the fact that Mama C will be joining us in Columbia starting Thursday.

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PaisleyPerspective: How is RBP funded; are you seeking sponsors for 2013?

S. Giza-Amenwashu: Anybody who knows anything about non-profits working primarily with the underserved, know this is a labor of love.  Other than a small grant from the Cultural Council of Richland & Lexington County, we’re completely funding the festival ourselves.   In the past some events have been free but this year both Friday and Saturday events will have a small admission fee. In addition to RBP we provide Media Literacy workshops to youth & adults throughout the year in schools and community based organizations. We can always use financial support to do both the outreach education and produce the film & cultural arts festival.

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PaisleyPerspective: When & where will the 5th Reel Black Pix Film Festival be held?

S. Giza-Amenwashu: 5th Reel Black Pix is excited to welcome Mama C from Tanzania to Columbia, SC.

Thursday, February 7th: She will be jammin’ with Skipp Pearson & the Jazz Workshop at Hunter Gatherer in Columbia, SC from 9:00pm to 12:00am.

Friday, February 8th: You can listen to us on the radio program Evolve With Tzima on WOIC 1230AM from 10:00am to 11:00am and after that she will be speaking to students at Columbia College.  Friday evening will be hosted by Azikiwe Zik Chanler where Baba Seitu and Mama C will have an African music jam session at Taste of Jamaica on Beltline in Columbia, SC.

Saturday, February 9th: We will screen Hoodwinked during the Rell Black Pix Three Round Knockout Slam at Ella’s Café and Lounge in West Columbia, SC starting at 7:00pm.

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PaisleyPerspective: What are you doing when you are not organizing for RBP?

S. Giza-Amenwashu: I’m a wife and homemaker; my husband is my first priority. However, my life’s path is one of an artist. Besides producing a film & cultural arts festival, I’m a poet, filmmaker, recording artist, fabric basket weaver and soon will begin working toward becoming a certified yoga instructor. I love the life I live and live the life I love.

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PaisleyPerspective: Tell us where people can find more details about the 5th Reel Black Pix Film Festival and where they can purchase tickets?

S. Giza-Amenwashu:  You can go to the HeTePu Productions facebook page to get information about prices and additional event details.  We look forward to seeing you this weekend.

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Fresh Up


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In October PaisleyPerspective told you about Freshniz 3 presented by Izms of Art.  Freshniz is a way to bring you interesting people in a unique interview/talk show type format.  This coming Sunday you have a chance to be a part of Freshniz 4 – The Food Edition.  Freshniz is a way to bring creative people to talk about what they do.  This event brings foodies from all around.

Freshniz Four Flyer

Here are the details…

Izms of Art presents The FRESHNIZ: The Live Magazine Experience (Food Edition)
January 13th at Rosso Trattoria Italia in Trenholm Plaza

This live magazine experience showcases some of the Southeast’s most interesting and creative people.

The purpose of The Freshniz is to highlight the creative people we know,who are gifted and committed to their individual crafts.

Hosted By: Jah Freedom
Natasha Lorick | Wine and Design
Johnny Smith | Organic Farmer
Bryan Tayara | Our Local Catch
Musical guest | THE Dubber
Live Art from Cedric Umoja

Cost: $40 (Dinner Included) Limited Setting Available
For more information, Call: 803.315.5920 or Email info@theblakmarket.com

Check out the Izms of Art Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Izms.ofArt) register/reserve your spot.

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Behind Me…Before Me


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Happy New Year! Today is the 2nd Anniversary of PaisleyPerspective: blogging about the arts & social awareness.  PaisleyPerspective started as a blog dedicated to talking about everything under the sun but it was later decided to reign in the topics and focus on two of my passions.  Today I want to take a personal and PaisleyPerspective look back at the year in review, reflecting on what I want to do in 2013.

PaisleyPerspective wishing you a Happy New Year filled with abundant blessings!

PaisleyPerspective wishing you a Happy New Year filled with abundant blessings!

Personally and under PaisleyPerspective I was inspired by the creativity of friends and organizations who developed film festivals (Reel Black Pix Film Fest) and did live interviews of members from the creative community (Freshniz Events).  But the best event that I covered was in June surrounding the protest of Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of funds for the SC Arts Commission.  With the swipe of a pen she shut down an office including funding for maintaining the state’s arts collections.  With great enthusiasm the arts community gathered on the State House grounds in Columbia, SC and showed why they were relevant through singing, dancing, instrumental performances, mini poetry workshops, painting demonstrations, and other activities even in the rain.

On the social awareness side, I was active in the process of becoming a National Delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte, NC.  The process began in January and involved participation in conventions on a county and state level.   Winning a seat to represent Democrats from the state of South Carolina was an honor and showed what determination and a good campaign with dedicated family & friends can do.  In direct correlation with becoming a delegate was campaigning for President Obama and endorsing him as the best candidate.  Throughout the year I wrote a few pieces to encourage activity in the political process including voting and volunteering.

Me, my husband and good friends brought 2012 in partying to the legendary band Parliament Funkadelic lead by George Clinton at the Famously Hot New Years Eve celebrations in Columbia, SC.  I was happy to leave behind 2011, a year that was filled with grief over the death of my mother and grandmother.  I struggled with staying focused on PaisleyPerspective but eventually came back to provide my insight and opinions on a regular basis.

Now we are in a new year.  When the clock strikes midnight, we are the same person that we are at 11:59pm in the prior year.  However, in addition to a new tax year we enter a new year of possibilities.  There are resolutions made that are often quickly forgotten.  As for me I choose to make only one resolution for 2013; I will work to continue being the change I wish to see in the world.  I do have character traits and habits that I can improve, however, I work each day to be better than the last day.  One of the many lessons I carry from my mom is to always seek to do your best and when you fall short, keep at it.  So in 2013 I will keep striving at being a better me and working to make PaisleyPerspective a better blog.

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Beauty


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Have you ever seen a person, place, or thing that took your breath away? There is much truth in the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Numerous industries survive on this basic principle; from cosmetics, to fashion, to automobiles to most visually based merchandise we have our own opinion of what is beautiful. However beauty should not be regulated to visual only; we have all heard music that stirs our souls with beautiful melodic sounds.

Red Autumn Tree          (public domain)

Red Autumn Tree (public domain)

This past autumn was one of the most beautiful that I have seen in years. I remember as a child walking with my mom through our neighborhood park on Chicago’s west side on a peak autumn day. We collected leaves of each color but my favorites were those in the vibrant hues of red and orange. A few weeks ago I saw vibrant red leaves like the ones I collected as a child. Beauty is often connected to an experience that stirs up a positive emotion or memory. Regardless of culture most humans can agree on beauty within nature from autumn leaves to an evening sunset. However physical beauty varies from culture to culture and I will not even attempt to touch on culturally defined beauty.

When it comes to visual art such as paintings or sculptures we tend to agree more easily on what is appealing. Yet, if two people are looking at a Jackson Pollock abstract there will most likely be two distinct opinions. It is difficult to see the same things in abstract art. One of the first artist that I liked as a child was Georgia O’Keeffe, specifically her paintings from the Cloud series I found joyful. Having access to the Art Institute of Chicago during my formative years clearly defined my taste in visual art. Ancient art to modern art I am inspired by it all, from beauty among the broken shards of a vase dating back to 400 B.C. to Tiffany designed stained glass windows. Recently looking at designs from African Fashion Week I saw items I liked and others that I did not find aesthetically appealing. Fashion is one of those industries that is driven by cultural identity and hence culturally defined beauty. With that said there are designs from U.S. Fall Fashion Week that I adore and others I think are horrendous but as is said “to each his own”.

Sky Above Clouds IV by Georgia O'Keeffe (c) 1965 displayed in Art Institute of Chicago

Sky Above Clouds IV by Georgia O’Keeffe (c) 1965 displayed in Art Institute of Chicago

Beauty is a topic that requires more than one blog post to define or discuss. We all have our perception of what we find beautiful. Some of the most interesting photo blogs capture beauty in unusual ways, from ordinary things the lens can capture a moment of beauty. Amazingly we have enough of the same idea of beauty to have off the rack clothing stores and general merchandise for our homes. Though sadly sometimes we can turn beauty into ugliness when trying to attain perfection. Too much cosmetics or plastic surgery can lead to the opposite effect of what we are seeking. It takes time even for nature to create the most beautiful landscape. If we break down the aesthetic of what we think is beautiful we might be surprised by what we find. We must remember that even within something beautiful there is often imperfections.

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