My Southern Heritage

My southern heritage includes enslaved blacks working for white plantation owners in Clarendon County located in South Carolina.  This is my response to those who say the Confederate battle flag that flies on the South Carolina State House grounds is part of southern heritage.  Every story has two sides and my side traces back through the Harvin-Durant family, to around the early 1800’s onto a ship that carried enslaved Africans to the harbors of Charleston, SC.

Diagram of Slave ShipsThere is no positive spin on stealing away humans to work as free labor in a distant land.  With millions more not making the journey and bodies thrown overboard, to rest at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.  In addition, the idea of there being good plantation owners is a contradiction; purchase of humans as though they are cattle is inhumane.  Individuals who have not committed a crime should not be held against their will to do labor for anyone at anytime past, present or future.  For me the Confederate battle flag conjures memories of a past where a race of people were forced immigrants, yet not considered citizens but personal property.

Let me clarify, the reason I call it a battle that flies on the SC State House grounds is because it is not the actual flag flown as representative of the Confederate states.  But that is a history lesson within itself.  My point is regardless of whether a battle flag or actual Confederate flag, the Civil War was in 1865 and the victor was the Union Army.  Old Glory otherwise known as the flag of the United States of America is the flag that should be flown on and in state government property in addition to the state flag.

Segregated Drinking Fountains 1950. © Elliott ErwittHeritage of any kind should not merely center around a flag.  A flag that should be laid to rest just as the leaders of the Confederacy did in 1865.  For various reasons, some I believe to push back the progress of blacks, state legislators decided that the battle flag be placed in South Carolina Senate and House Chambers as early as the 1930s.  In 1962 the flag was raised onto the State House dome in remembrance of the Civil War.  I am certain this was also in large part to give push back to the progress of the Civil Rights movement.  Then in 2000, the flag was removed and put on the state house grounds.

My southern heritage includes positive things.  It includes a great-great grandfather that was able to purchase acres of land to farm.  It involves grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who were able to get an education and become doctors, lawyers & educators.  However, when I look upon the battle flag originally flown by the Confederate Army I see oppression of a race.  I see continued attempt to push back a race of people with fear.

Finally, this past Saturday, I saw people of all races, genders, and religions come together to peacefully protest removal of a symbol of division.  On the South Carolina State House grounds surrounding the flag were people with one common cause to move the state forward into the future.  Those in attendance, were also there to remember nine victims murdered by a 21 year-old, who was welcomed into their place of worship at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.  Sometimes holding on to the wrong part of our heritage can hold us back and become distorted.  I am ready to be better than the past.  It is time to evolve our southern heritage into something greater than our past.

As of the writing of this blog post, the South Carolina Governor Nikky Haley has called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from state house grounds.  Leaders around the nation are calling for the same and I believe it is time.  Over the next day’s discussion in the SC General Assembly will include removal of a part of southern heritage that belongs in a Confederate museum.  Again it is time to move forward.


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Woman Wearing Red Glasses

SCDWC Day In Blue - Keynote Address (Credit: State Newspaper)Standing on stage with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just a few weeks ago has brought some interesting conversations. Most common questions are “Did I see you on TV standing behind Hillary?” or “I know you must have been excited standing on stage with our next President?” I humbly respond yes that was me you saw and it was an interesting day. Oftentimes when you see a televised live event with any national political figure there is much work that has gone into planning. Conference calls along with last minute changes made for an interesting day but in the end the Keynote speaker for the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council, 2015 Day In Blue was phenomenal. Through hard work and determination the SCDWC President Susan Y Smith was able to secure Secretary Clinton as our keynote speaker.

The SCDWC along with the South Carolina House Democratic Caucus held its 3rd Day In Blue, which started with recognition in the South Carolina House Chamber by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter and the Speaker of the House. Workshops on Ethics and Self-Care occurred in the Blatt Building. Both workshops contained a bevy of useful information. The Ethics Workshop presented by Jane Shuler provided information for those seeker to run for an elected office. The Self-Care Workshop presented by Rep. Mary Gail Douglas reminded all female activist present to take time for self. In no way am I saying it wasn’t exciting being on stage with a national Democratic leader but for me the day was about motivating fellow Democratic women to become activist.  Wrapping the day up with a message that included the importance of equal pay for women helped solidify the fact we still have strives to make and glass ceilings to shatter.

My journey being on the stage with fellow SCDWC Executive Board members and Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter during Secretary Clinton’s speech involved a cumulation of activism. I often used the term I work to be present in my own existence. What that means is I seek to work for changes I want to see at local, state and national levels. In addition I can say it was due to being present in our own existences. I shared the stage with long-time Democratic activists who believed in their ability to make a different in this world. I am in the process of writing a book to detail my journey; it is important to understand that we all can bring change. No impact is too small one ripple can start a wave of positive progress.  You can watch the full coverage of the Day In Blue Keynote Address via the C-SPAN link:

Iris ApfelToday, I saw the documentary titled IRIS.  The latest film from legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (GREY GARDENS, GIMME SHELTER), IRIS pairs the late 88-year-old filmmaker (who passed away on March 5) with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. IRIS portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life’s sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment. Despite the abundance of glamour in her current life, she continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression. “I feel lucky to be working. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.”

I was inspired and encouraged more than ever to live my life wide open and without reservation. I felt a kindred spirit with Iris Apfel for many reasons but it was mainly her choice of doing what made her happy. She chose to not have children and even though, I myself wanted children I found it refreshing. Iris is not living her life by anybody else’s standards she is setting her own style and pathway through life. It is easy to be caught up in what is expected of us but it is hard to live for ourselves alone.

This coming Wednesday, I will be the feature poet at Mind Gravy a local poetry venue. It is an honor and humbling experience to be able to share poetry during a 30 minute set. There are two things for which I am passionate and that is poetry and politics. I believe in the importance of the art of words and writing. When I write poems, I try to paint a portrait with my rubs; my pen is used to make brush strokes of emotions. And politics for me is an opportunity to be a part of change in my world. I do not taking the opportunities of living in a democracy for granted. Here in the United States we are the freedom to express ourselves in our art and political beliefs. Being an African American woman in a country built on the backs of enslaved Africans and West Indians, I don’t take for granted the importance of being present in my own existence. Finally it helps to be able walk through life wearing a pair of phenomenal red, orange and tortoise shell eyeglasses to help me see my way forward.

Source: Synopsis and photos for IRIS the documentary from; and Hillary photo from The State Newspaper


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Festering Wounds

No Violence - Know PeaceUnjustified deaths of African American citizens by the hands of law enforcement are one catalyst for recent rage in the U.S.  This week via social media discussions, I have advised that I am opposed to the violence recently displayed in Baltimore.  With that said, I understand the frustration, the anger, and other root causes to the rage.  Poverty, inadequate schools, racism, and classism are some of the festering wounds that cover numerous urban and rural areas populated by blacks.  Many have given their opinions to my comments, some in agreement, some against or not understanding my sentiments.

Specifically, I used the analogy of “animalistic behavior” regarding destructive incidents in Baltimore, which was given push back.  When one acts like or displays certain behavior it does not mean that person has become that particular thing.  For example, to act like a birdbrain doesn’t mean you are unintelligent; it mostly means you’ve temporarily displayed unintelligent behavior.  In this era of compressed news, we often compress thought as well.  In addition, focus on one word and not reflecting on full content or statements in context can lead to misunderstanding.

This blog is my platform for my opinions.  Its purpose was for sharing opinions and ideas.  The purpose is still the same and has not changed.  I am open to other opinions and ideas but mine is there are always better recourse than violence.

I believe in order for festering wounds to be given adequate attention a conversation needs to be started.  I am currently reading “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” written by Dr. King.  In the introduction of the book the riots in Watts are mentioned.  The young men involved believed they had won because finally they were seen and the nation was paying attention.

My question now, very much like what Dr. King discussed is now what?  When attention is placed on you and on the disenfranchised areas of this nation as well as the initial catalyst, what is the strategic plan?  Yes, it seems obvious specifically African Americans are seeking opportunity through fare wages, better schools and housing.  These are in addition to respect of black life by law enforcement.

I wish I knew the ultimate solution to heal festering wounds.  I wish there was a clear and perfect answer or agenda that could be outlined and followed.  Fifty years after Selma we are still asking many of the same questions in the black communities.  Even with black leaders in the highest national positions, elected and appointed, this nation has similar issues.  Yet, I stand firm in the belief that violent acts are not the answer, primarily because violence detracts from the root cause or causes of festering wounds.


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Greater Than My Fear

Screw FearI am greater than my fear. I am greater than my fear.  I am greater than my fear.  I could say fears but there actually is only one ultimate fear…failing or failure.  This is not who I was when I was a child.  I had wide opened ambitions. I wanted to attend West Point not for any particular reason; I just knew it was one of the best institutes for higher learning.  I did not know that in the 1980’s they did not admit females.  There were other ambitions like skydiving and mountain climbing that I desired to accomplish.  However somewhere over time as an adult fears rolled away the ambitions.

I have been able to get around the boulder called fear for some accomplishments.  This blog is major for me to share my insights and thoughts as well as poetry.  Overcoming my fear of public speaking is a huge accomplishment.  But still lingering in my mind, I am held back from finishing a major goal I have set for myself.  And it is simply due to fear of not getting it right.

While on Facebook, while ignoring my to do list, I read a post of a former high school classmate.  She had posted as photo of her hearing devices.  Due to a disease she lost all her hearing.  With the aid of cochlear implants and technology she can communicate.  She is a producer and director so you can imagine the importance of her hearing.  It was a simple statement where se wrote, “she knew she wasn’t going to stop working so she had to get the implants.”  I thought this woman had to deal with hearing loss and is still living her passion.

I have heard of others having an epiphany but I never fully understood what it meant.  I now understand.  It is almost like an out of body experience.  You feel as though you are renewed and you have a clear vision of who are meant to be.  In my case I am breaking the bonds of fear.  As a Christian, I believe in the power of God.  But I also believe in the scripture that states:

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”                       James 2:26 (NIV)

We have to put effort into that which we desire, not merely just want it put in the work to attain our goals.

I have never felt this determined before but it is amazing what a hearing impaired friend can do.  She can make you see your own potential.  So I am moving forward and kicking fears butt.  I am greater than my fear and there are no more excuses.


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Poetically Speaking

Claude McKayApril is National Poetry Month here in the United States.  National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives every April.  It was started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.

Those who follow PaisleyPerspective know that I am a poet.  Of my many activities, poetry is one of my oldest passions in addition to politics and social activism.  I have written poetry since I was nine years old. I’ve studied the art of poetry while in college as well as currently.  There are so many poets I have yet to read and study.  Today the “Poem a Day” poem from the Academy of American poets is by Claude McKay.  I have also received poems by him in February via The Poetry Foundation.  The art of poetry surrounds us each day, especially if we listen to lyrically based music.  Join me in learning about poets of the past and the present.

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on September 15, 1889. His older brother, who possessed a library of English novels, poetry, and scientific texts, educated him. In 1912, McKay published a book of verse called Songs of Jamaica (Gardner), recording his impressions of black life in Jamaica in dialect.  McKay was a key contributor to the Harlem Renaissance in addition to speaking out against racism.


After the Winter

by: Claude McKay, 1889 – 1948


Some day, when trees have shed their leaves

And against the morning’s white

The shivering birds beneath the eaves

Have sheltered for the night,

We’ll turn our faces southward, love,

Toward the summer isle

Where bamboos spire to shafted grove

And wide-mouthed orchids smile.


And we will seek the quiet hill

Where towers the cotton tree,

And leaps the laughing crystal rill,

And works the droning bee.

And we will build a cottage there

Beside an open glade,

With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,

And ferns that never fade.


This poem is in the public domain.


To learn more about Claude McKay click here to visit the Poetry Foundation website.  To learn more about National Poetry Month click here and visit the Academy of American Poets website.  I encourage you to open your mind to the joy of poetry, read a poem, find an event near you, or take your hand at writing a poem

Sources: and


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MomMy mom died today.  Well actually today is the anniversary of her death.  It has been a few years now.  It has been enough years where the deep ache in my chest and gut has dulled but still enough to be noticed.  Still no matter how many years pass, I will miss her.  She was a good person and loving mother to me, her only child.  She became pregnant at a young age just entering her 20’s but she and my father married.  There were bumps and obstacles along their journey but they were an example of decent parents.  My father died nearly fifteen years prior to my mom; she and I had overcome his unexpected death.  We were always close but became even closer over the years.

I try not to focus too much on my mom not being alive but it is hard.  Only children if raised in a positive environment have a unique bond with their parents.  It sounds cliché however; my mother was my first friend.  We ventured around Chicago together visiting various museums and neighborhoods.  Guys would flirt with her…she never realized she was pretty.  There was not a vain bone in my mom’s body.  She could be moody but everyone has those moments.

One of the main things I miss about her is our daily talks.  Sometimes they would be an hour-long end of the day wrap up session about life.  Other times they would be a quick check in to be sure each of us were okay.  On her last day of life we did our standard morning text.  We weren’t morning people so texting was best not to grumble at each other.  I did mention the moodiness part?  On the day she died our last communication was at 7:04am:

Me: Good morning mommy I hope you have a good day. I love u.

Mom: Love u 2. Good morning have nice day :-)

Me: I like my job but I’m happy it’s Friday :-)

I am led to believe due to how I found my mom…many hours later that she may have passed soon after her last text.  I cherish those words mainly because I don’t remember many details of our last phone conversation that happened only the night prior.  I remember overall details but not the mundane parts of our conversation.  I have finally begun to let go of that frustration because what is important is my mother always showed me she loved me.  It was done in words and in actions, so for me there are no regrets in that area.

I would hope that someone reading this would take a life lesson from it.  Love your parents while you are able.  If there is some tension or conflict between you then try to work it out.  I know everyone doesn’t have the relationship that I had with my mom, they may never speak to their parents.  However, I would hope that you at least try.  We are all hurt by something outside of physical abuse and even then try to communicate through the anger.

I cannot relate to hating a parent.  I believe that is truly a blessing and something that should exist for everyone.  However, I know it doesn’t.  Yet, like I said, I had a loving mom and simply stated I miss my mama…still.


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The Greedy Get Got

Pyramid SchemeMy late father a reformed con man, hustler, and street smart type, always said, “the greedy get got.”  He was referring to victims of con games or schemes.  I didn’t agree with him for all instances, such as the elderly or children being hustled or conned.  He agreed to a point that what fooled them was their naïve beliefs.

I asked my dad, “what he considered being greedy?”  He gave the following example.  Anyone who is not trying to pay the actual value for a service or a product is greedy in some way.  I still hesitate to use the term or describe these individuals as greedy.  My take on it is more they are trying to save a dollar; true some may be cheap but I think everybody wants to get a good deal.

Whether you look at things how my dad did or how I look at them, cons happen every day.  Most often they occur because of an attempt to cut cost.  Still many cons are done on people such as the elderly.  There are financial cons and cons that involve some form of service.

One of the best things to remember is a con usually occurs by someone trying sell to you.  This is evident in email-based cons, especially during tax season.  Businesses that offer to double your tax return or to provide fast returns should be looked at skeptically.  The doubling of the return and the fast return usually result in you having a loan repayment.  Very seldom do businesses pass out free money without any expected return.

Ponzi scheme is still is the biggest con that exists today.  By definition a Ponzi scheme is “a swindle in which a quick return, made up of money from new investors on an initial investment lures the victim into much bigger risks.” Ponzi is also known a pyramid scheme because it is based on recruiting and not direct sales or profits.  These schemes are one of the oldest con games.

When approached with a business opportunity, remember that something for nothing should be a red flag.  Pay attention to the person or organization trying to sell you an idea or business.  If someone approaches you in the form of a door-to-door sales method, use logical thought to determine if they are legitimate.  There are many legitimate businesses; this advice is not to bring fear but caution.

Finally, we all want to save a dollar or make a profit but be wise in your research.  Look within to make sure you are doing do diligence in researching a business before buying into a product or organization.  Ponzi schemes will exist until the end of time.  My dad’s energy is always with me; and I still hear his voice saying, “the greedy get got.”

Let me know have you been approached with a million dollar, to good to be real idea?


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Guilt Tripping

Easter CrossesI’m feeling guilty today.  It is one of the holiest times of the year in Christian faith.  This weekend is the time when Christians remember the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  On Good Friday the day that commemorates the crucifixion of Christ, I attended the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus performance.

During the start of the week, it wasn’t my plan to not attend Good Friday services.  As planned, I did attend Maundy (Holy) Thursday church services; where the Last Supper is remembered.  During the Last Supper is when Jesus tells of the coming betrayal by one of the twelve disciples in fulfillment of the scriptures.

Tuesday, I learned there would be an elephant walk when the circus came to my town.  Since it was recently announced that elephants would be phased out of circus acts, this would potentially be one of the last elephant walks.  I made the decision to attend and witness the walk, however, the trains arrived early and I missed seeing my favorite large mammal.

Circus ElephantDisappointedly, I drove home and then decided I should end my boycott of the circus.  It turned out the best date for me and my husband to attend was Friday.  I wrestled with the guilt but my love of elephants, acrobats, and clowns (yes clowns) won out.  In addition my mother’s funeral was on a Good Friday.  Here in the South funerals can take place 365 days of the year.  Seeing the circus on Good Friday made me not focus on missing my mom.

There are those who will read this and not understand.  I can’t help those individuals; I can only speak to people who are spiritually aware.  True religion and spirituality are not necessarily the same but for me they go hand in hand.  My belief in Jesus Christ and him dying for my salvation are important to me.  I am a believer of religious freedom and respect others beliefs.  However, as for me, mine, and my household we choose to love the Lord Jesus Christ.  Hence, I still feel just a little bit guilty.


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Purple Potatoes

Fingerling Potatoes

Courtesy of

We all have at least one thing we regret.  If you don’t have any regrets then you haven’t lived long enough.  Okay young people don’t be offended it’s the truth.  When I was younger, I had no regrets or that is what I thought.

Life and decades pass and we all look back, thinking there is something we could have done differently.  By differently, I mean not at all or better.  People in denial will say, “I learned from my mistakes, so I have no regrets.”  Well I hope you learn from your mistakes, to not learn from mistakes shows immaturity.  But to say you have no regrets seems like a pie in the sky dream.

Today, I attended an informational session at the University of South Carolina, Darla Moore School of Business.  I am interested in applying to the Professional MBA (PMBA) program.  I mentioned earlier, live long enough and you will have at least one regret.  My primary regret is that I did not complete my Masters of Science degree in Statistics way back a long long long time ago.  I stopped because of an irrational fear even after conquering the hardest graduate level statistical courses.

Lunch was included as part of the information session; it was not a simple box lunch.  We were served a hot meal that included a delicious blend of Mediterranean inspired dishes.  One of the unique dishes included a blend of potatoes including purple potatoes.  I was going to pass by the purple potatoes but then decided to go outside of my comfort zone.

A few years ago, I submitted an interest card for the PMBA program.  I have signed up for interest events in the past but for various reasons have been unable to attend.  Today’s event being on the weekend gave me no excuse to not attend.

I don’t know from where I’ll receive funding for the $35,000 program tuition; however, I will apply by faith.  Also, I don’t know if my GRE scores will be sufficient or my undergraduate GPA.  I had a solid B-average in graduate school which I am sure will help me.

Each day, when I feel doubt I try to channel my former 16 year old self.  I was shy but I believed in the ability to accomplish any goal I set for myself.  My teen-age self would have dived into the dish of purple potatoes without hesitation.  Today those purple potatoes became the symbol of conquering my dusty goal of earning a post-undergraduate degree.

What are your own purple potato obstacles and how do you plan to overcome them?


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Looking For Nothing In Return

Presidential Event AccessThis past Friday, March 6, 2015, The President of the United States, Barack Obama held a Town Hall meeting at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. Benedict College is a historically Black college in the state that he, others and myself know helped propel him to the White House by winning the South Carolina Democratic Primary, on Saturday, January 26, 2008. He not only won it but left his opponents scratching their heads and wondering what happened. Then Senator Barack Obama won the SC Democratic Primary with 55.4% of the vote, with then Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a far second with 26.5% and Senator John Edwards an even further third place with 17.6%. Even adding Clinton and Edwards votes together Obama had won.

He admitted to an intimate crowd of 1,100 students, elected officials, and community leaders including myself that he was long overdue for a visit to South Carolina. We all cheered in complete agreement. After short opening remarks President Obama opened up the floor for approximately 45 minutes of questions and answers. With microphone in hand walking around the stage, he took questions. Diplomatically beginning with female, male, female, male to be fair to those in attendance. There were questions that ranged form the environment specifically the Keystone Pipeline veto, to gun violence as well as findings regarding the Ferguson police department.

Then there was the 10-year old boy that stole the show. Trace Adams asked the President, “When did he first think of becoming President.” President Obama responded, “It wasn’t when he was 10 years old.” The President indicated “He was more interested in becoming an Architect and creating buildings.” What I found to be inspiring was after Trace, who was directly behind me sat back down he burst into tears. I can only imagine the impact of the leader of the free world telling him he could be President has done to inspire him.

President Obama at Benedict CollegeIt was on Monday, I learned that President Obama was coming to South Carolina. And I immediately began getting request for tickets to the event. I felt honored that people thought I had such influence and power but at that point I didn’t think I would even be able to attend. The event was focused on speaking to and encouraging young people. However as the week progressed, I was approached with the opportunity to get entrance into the event. To be honest, I hesitated in deciding whether to attend, I thought that it would be a huge crowd. However, I learned it was going to only be select group of people in attendance.

Often I am asked how did I get involved in the various activities in which I participate. I sometimes want to say, I am merely present in my life. I first volunteered to help Obama get elected in the 1996 General Election when he was running for Illinois State Senator. Initially volunteering for President Clinton’s re-election campaign, I had the opportunity to help with what is called down-ticket races. And Obama was the race, for which I provided assistance via phonebooks.

Moving forward to May 2007, when I volunteered for the Obama ’08 campaign the rest is history. I drove in a Secret Service lead motorcade, helped assemble his personal daily briefing books, assisted with the General Election Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign, and from 2010 until 2013 served as State Digital Lead. My role as State Digital Lead even lead to opportunities to manage the state digital desk at the Presidential Inaugural Committee HQ in Washington, DC on 2013 National Day of Service.  All of this was done on a volunteer unpaid basis. I did not look for any reward other than to help get Obama elected and then re-elected.

Politics can be brutal and overall I enjoy my career, so I don’t desire pursuing a position in the political arena outside of my volunteer efforts. However, I have had some amazing opportunities along this journey and looking back would be just as active as I have been.  Above the experiences I have gained, valued and honest friendships with people I may never have met otherwise.

Upon first moving to South Carolina, I inquired of my now late grandfather, how he received so many accolades and rewards? He said, “He was just present.” Of course it was more than him being present. He had to actively volunteer for the various organizations in which he was involved. His hard work ethic led to being approached by leadership and propelled him into leadership roles. My grandfather and parents examples of being present in their own lives has helped to propel me forward in life. When you show up not expecting anything in return, the blessings truly do flow.


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Oh Stop Whining

No WhiningI hate whiners. Okay maybe hate is too strong a word. There definitely are things that I do hate. I hate when children are mistreated and abused. I could say I hate child abusers but what if they themselves were abused? They are part of a hideous cycle but make note I don’t excuse what they are doing. I guess using the word hate, truly is too strong for how I feel about whiners. Let’s just say, I get annoyed by people who whine. Ironically, reading what I have written thus far sounds a lot like whining.

I did not intend to write about whining or my dislike of it. My intent was to let you know that PaisleyPerspective content will increase. Girl Scouts honor, it will. And no I do not have my fingers crossed behind my back. There have been so many stirrings and ideas in my head to share with you. I thank those who stop by and look at older post as well as get inspiration. The most read post is still “Peace Be With You”, which warms my spirit.

March is Women’s History month and I want to be sure that women around the world are highlighted. There are women and girls who today are still fighting for equality. Even in nations where women are Presidents and Prime Ministers there is still extreme sexism. Here in the United States, there have been 44 male Presidents elected and definitely is time for a woman President to be elected.

I started with the statement, I hate whiners. I will end with the reason why. We can’t change much when we whine. Whining annoys people and you may get a small part of what you hope to have or gain. Whining about your current condition or world events will not change them. Being present in your own existence, taking time to understand issues will help toward change. It is easy to be cynical but it is hard to be optimistic sometimes and believe that you can bring change.


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My Dr. King Holiday Weekend

Dr. M.L. King Jr.This past Dr. King holiday weekend was mixed with many activities. On Friday, I went to see the movie, Selma. After seeing it my heart was full. Full with the fact that I need to be sure that I am present in my own existence. What that means is that I help bring solutions and not merely complain about issues that I see in my community.

Over the weekend, I attended meetings with the Manning, SC Branch of the NAACP. This included an Executive Board organizing meeting as well as a monthly meeting that highlighted Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement. However, today the actual Dr. King Holiday for celebrating his life and legacy, I did something a little different.

About a month ago, I learned that a friend would be performing poetry at the 2015 TEDxColumbiaSC (x=independently organized TED event). I was ecstatic , I am a self professed TED Talk geek, nerd, semi-fanatic and to put it plainly I just like smart people. When I say smart people I don’t mean people who’ve necessarily amassed multiple degrees. They definitely are included in that number as I am one of them but I mean insightful open minded engaging people.

2015 TEDxColumbiaSCTEDxColumbiaSC was everything, I thought it would be and more. I was engaged with a talk about our rivers and how we should respect them, visit them, and listen to them. I was engaged with a talk of how to cure racism as well as the impact of African American South Carolinians during the Civil Rights Movement. In addition the audience was given food for thought related to the current political processes and we were also encouraged to consider running for elected office. There were videos from TED Talk events and interactive activities to get the audience moving, thinking, and sharing.

However for me the best part was seeing friends from my poetry world encourage and inspire the audience to listen and then be active. I was also inspired by an associate who is a visual artist, to live my passion.

Upon the conclusion of TEDxColumbiaSC, I knew that I was in the right place on Dr. King’s holiday. I was among thinkers and innovators; individuals who shared insights into topics important to me. I did not know what the speakers would speak about before attending but that is part of the idea for TEDx and TED Talks events. These events are meant to open your mind and make you think outside the hexagon. I can definitely say that TEDxColumbiaSC gave me much to ponder. If Dr. King were still living, I am certain he would have enjoyed today’s insightful talks.

Check out the TEDxColumbiaSC website for more information about the 2015 event and to watch the videos of the talks.  You can go to TED Talk website for information about TED.


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Thoughts: Seeing Selma The Movie

I saw Selma last Friday evening. Immediately after work, solo. I was surrounded by some who looked like me, and some who didn’t.

We all watched silently, with reverence and respect. But no one really looked at each other. Maybe in different ways, and for different reasons, it just hurt too much to acknowledge our common humanity.

Or maybe we were just so full.

My family, the Harris Family, is from Alabama. And I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. So I did not need to SEE Selma. Like many of African Americans, I

know the history. We ARE the history. But I did need to FEEL it. I needed to receive the spiritual energy, from those actors depicting the Selma participants, so that I could forward it to Ferguson. To France. To the Sudan. To Israel – both Israels. To each of you.

Oppression, in all of its inglorious racial, gender, political, religious, sexual-orientation, and socio-economic horror, is on the run.

It has always been on the run.

But only because we keep chasing it. We prefer to chase it with love and nonviolence. However, there are trying times when vengeance and a can of Whup-Ass is required. Either way, oppression is running out of breath, out of real estate, and out of time.

One Love.


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PaisleyPerspective Turns 4Today is the 4th Anniversary for, which was launched 1/1/11 at 1:11am.  There have been a number of life events that have been documented over the years within the blog. During the recent past months, events around the lack of indictments for law enforcement officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, MO and Eric Gardner in Staten Island, NY reportedly due to excessive force have been forefront in the news.  However, there are instances of human injustice around the planet that involve other groups including children, women, and the LGBT community that too should be made known.  Freshly back from The Watering Hole 2nd Annual Poet’s Retreat (read more here) I am continually encouraged to give human injustice a voice on this blog.

I am a believer in the power of the U.S. political process, the record low voter turnout in U.S. 2014 Elections was disappointing.  There are many U.S. citizens who do not believe voting makes a difference but the power of the numbers have been proven.  Look back to 2008 and 2012 the election of the first African American U.S. President, Barack H. Obama proved the power of minority communities including women. In addition to the political process, I believe overall activism of citizens can bring about positive and lasting change.

It is important for each person to be present in their own existence.  We all know the quote by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  Ultimately what it means to me is to not wait for others to make your immediate and the world as a whole better but to step up and out to make a difference.

Finally, I want to thank you whether this is your first time or hundredth time stopping by  My goal during this the 4th year of PaisleyPerspective is to continue to share my heart and passions with you and keep you coming back for more.  Starting in 2015, video commentary and interviews will be incorporated in print blog posts.  And if you have blogs, commentary, poetry or photography to share check out the Submissions Guidelines.


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A Poet Renewed

Retreat Workshop - Facilitators in Background

The Watering Hole Retreat Workshop Photo Credit: Frank X Walker (c) 2014

When I left for The Watering Hole 2nd Annual Poet’s Retreat held at Santee State Park in South Carolina, I just wanted to simply be a better poet. I didn’t have any other way to say my goal than to be better at my craft in addition to making connections with other poets of color. No specifics, no one area of improvement just a very general goal.

I returned home after five days and four nights baptized. Not in the literal sense but that is how I feel. Cleansed of past doubts and filled with renewed inspiration. I believe that I have validity as a poet and most of all a black female poet. I am not an angry snapping vagina female poet but I am a poet with a vagina who does get angry. I learned that I have my own unique voice and I must be true to that voice within me.

I realized, I can only write from my own experience. I can only write my truth, record what I hear and see as I see it. Most importantly, I must be present in my own existence. No artist of any genre becomes great or better by not practicing their craft on a regular basis. Nor do they become better by not studying any other artist inside their genre as well as artist in other genres. So with that reality, I have set the following as goals going forth. Not merely New Year resolutions but a better me the poet resolutions.

  • Write consistently at least seven hours minimum each week. Whether one hour a day or two hours every other day but log seven hours putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
  • Study poet ancestors such as Brooks, Baldwin, and Hughes to name a few as well as Keats and Dickerson and others.
  • Study my poet mentors Nikky Finney; Frank X Walker; Kwame Dawes; Patricia Smith; Mariahhadessa Ekere Tallie; Roger Bonair-Agard; Edward Madden; and Charlene Spearen.
  • Study contemporary poets and my peers.
  • Do not focus solely on being published or getting additional letters behind my name but sharing my truth.

This renewed energy comes during the slumber of 2014 and the birth of 2015 but as stated earlier it is not a New Year resolution. It is a poet resolution that I will carry through to many years to come. Finally, I am energized that my unique voice needs to be shared with the universe. I cannot be someone else’s voice.

The late Steve Jobs a poet of invention stated, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

It is so true our time is finite in this space, we must be true to self.  Most importantly we must try to leave the better part of ourselves for future generations.


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The Birth of Jesus

Nativity SceneToday is Christmas Day; the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  Jesus is estimated to have been born 2,047 years ago.  There is so much I could say about this day but my faith leads me to simply allow the Holy Bible to speak for me.

 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2:1 – 20

New International Version


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Black Lives MatterThis past Monday, November 24, 2014 the decision of the Grand Jury to not indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot to death unarmed teenager Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, MO was released. Sadly, I was not surprised by the decision. However, I like many in Black communities around the U.S. as well as Internationally are frustrated by what we see as a disregard for Black males. The injustice is so clear that even the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the death of Michael Brown Jr. for possible civil rights violations. My anger and frustration is primarily because an unarmed person was shot 12 times and left dead & uncovered in the middle of the road for over four hours.

I am not in law enforcement but I can’t understand the logic in shooting an unarmed person 12 times. Shooting to stop a person from fleeing or coming toward you I understand. Shooting an 18 year old or any person in the head is to kill and is excessive. Due to the excessive nature of the shooting is the reason why so many people are angry that there is no indictment and hence no trial.

Monday evening in frustration and anger there was looting and arson of local businesses in Ferguson, MO.  Violence and burning of communities will not lead to any productive solution. I understand the anger and the rage but violence only begets more violence. And the burning of Black communities only leaves burned out and boarded up businesses. There is low probability of rebuilding of these communities due to increased insurance and other expenses. I am a Chicago native who was born and raised on the West side in an area devastated by riots after the assassination of Dr. King. Almost 50 years later those neighborhoods are still lined with burned out and boarded up buildings.

In my current town of Columbia, SC last night there were passionate but peaceful protest against the Grand Jury decision. The University of South Carolina NAACP chapter and later citizens in front of the SC State House demonstrated.  There are also protest still taking place in Ferguson, MO and other places around the nation. However, when days become weeks and weeks become months what will be the end result of the protest?

This past weekend a 12 year old Black child with a toy gun was shot and killed by a rookie police officer.  In addition, in recent interviews Darren Wilson has indicated he is sorry for shooting Michael Brown Jr. but has a clear conscious. I am baffled at how anyone can have a clear conscious after shooting someone 12 times who was unarmed, especially an 18 year old youth.

Finally, even with the anger and frustrations surrounding the incident in Ferguson, MO as well as similar events, riots with looting and arson help no one.  With this noted, even peaceful protest can do so much. In order for true change to occur law enforcement officials and community leadership & citizens must seek solutions together. I don’t like playing the race card but sometimes certain situations call for the obvious.  This is especially when police officers fail to understand excessive force is not needed to defend and protect.  Ultimately, it takes acknowledgement of a problem to help lead to a productive solution.


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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 and other places check out . 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


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


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


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


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 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 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


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


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 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: and


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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 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


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  If you are as hopping mad as I am than you should go to 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 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?

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


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Do We Care?


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


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


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


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:


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:


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”.

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 peace…

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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.


Celebrating 100 years of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Celebrating 100 years of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.


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.


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 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.””.  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. wishes you and yours a Happy & Prosperous New Year!


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


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
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


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Still Striving To Overcome


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


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.


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


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.


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.

1:52 P.M. EDT




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My Thoughts on Supreme Court Ruling, Shelby v. Holder


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.


My Granddaddy Hamilton


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.




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.


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-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 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!




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:


Chicago Food Bank Logo


Harvest Hope Food Bank


Feeding America Logo~~~

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