I Am A Black Woman…I Matter


I use to always think if I needed help I would run to the police department.  For example if I were being followed by an unknown vehicle.  I direct people begging for money to the local police department.  However, I don’t know anymore…and that saddens me.  Repeated incidents of police officers shooting unarmed men or shooting those posing no threat have worn me down.  Add to this the officers involved in the deaths of Freddie Gray and Eric Gardner incidents that get no jail time and it becomes a heavy weight of despair.   I know all police officers are not bad or intolerant but I do know many do exist. I’m forever an optimist but also very much a realist.  And the unvieling of the injustice  via digital media and the continual unjustified shooting of black men has worn away a significant amount of my optimism.

You want to know why there is a black lives matter movement? It’s for incidents like recently in Florida when a health care worker searching for an autistic patient does what he is told is still shot. A black man doing his job was shot by a cop even when he was complying. It’s because the cop actually said he didn’t know why he shot the man & admitted to having aimed for the autistic man playing with a toy truck. This was similar to another incident where an adult male was mentally incapable of understanding police orders and was tasered.

My husbands best friend has a 20-something year old autistic son. This could have easily been him in the mentioned situatuion. I’m pushing on the political activism end. I am using my words via blogs, letters, and with my local Democratic party but we all have to suit up and make it known black lives matter. Yes, I know all lives matter but right now the target is on the bodies of black men, even when they do as told.  Let’s make it known via the beloved matter called currency; so via your wallets and the daily choices we make. Eye for eye leads to more blood shed, I truly believe violence is not the answer nor is anarchy. We are better than that…our blood line comes from African kings & queens so let us act as such.

What can you do? Contact local law enforcement and work with them in your communities. Contact local elected officials let them know your concerns. Be present in your neighborhoods and call out those elements who may not be uplifting but criminal in nature.  Yes, I know we must also have opportunities to provide criminal elements another avenue.  However, we only uplift with identifying all components that deteriorate our communities and must be strong in that acknowledgement.  All of these things are needed in combination to make it know we are not merely existing but human beings and citizens worthy and deserving of full rights…each and every day.  Whether we are in a poor neighborhood or a high end neighborhood..driving a fancy car we deserve respect.

We’ve struggled since the first slave ship landed in Jamestown. But we must take ownership of our identity and be present in all human capacities. Don’t give up but be present where it matters. Let your voice be heard in every capacity…and more than ever via the ballot box. There is much we can do and it starts locally with us. Enough is enough; my husband is a black man and he matters; my brother in laws are black men and they matter; my father in law is a black man and he matters, my sister  in law is a black woman and she matter, my niece is a black child and she matters,  I am a black woman and I matter!

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Amtrak #91 Silver Star Breakdowns


On the evening of Friday, July 8, 2016 at approximately 8:15pm on train #91 – Silver Star just outside of Rocky Mount, NC the engineer ran over tree debris resulting in damage to a main reservoir that effected the braking system. Passengers were advised of the situation and possible resolutions. It is now 3:52am as I write this and the train along with passengers are still outside of Rocky Mount, NC.  In addition, this is the return trip of a 50th birthday celebration that has gone well…until this point.

Power was shut down at various points and brought back up. However the last car where my husband and I sat the air conditioning appeared to malfunction resulting into an extremely warm, actually hot environment. During this same time approximately 1:15am a few things happened. The conductors who were on shift had to get off the clock, which is understandable but this left no communication. Until this point the male conductor provided details of all situations as he knew it.

Still from 1:15am until now the last car has become more and more unbearable. The conductor who came on duty at approximately 2:00am was unaware of the situation. I spoke to an Amtrak employee named David in the club car and was advised the conductor was outside trying to get us rolling. When I asked, “why weren’t people relocated to available seats in cooler cars?” He advised, “he’d walked through our car but everyone was sleeping.” I am sure this was true however I consider this to be an emergency situation needing actions outside standard operating procedure.

I was told that my husband and I could relocate to the car in front of us. This is where we currently sit. Accidents and tree branches fall. Also no one expects a car that had very good cooling to stop working. However, it did and someone should have had the common sense to redistribute passengers to cooler cars until the problem is fixed. We are now back rolling again or I should say flying but note that at 4:25am and upon checking the last car it is still significantly hot compared to comfortable and cool conditions in other cars.

Finally, I will be calling and contacting Amtrak in addition to writing this blog post. I’ve written this with an objective eye rather than significant opinion. I will be seeking some form of compensation for the inconvenience of the delay, original arrival time was 1:38am but now estimated at 9:38am, which is an 8-hour delay. A delay that just may have been caused by a train engineer going too fast for conditions. I hope a lesson is learned that many times Mother Nature wins.  In addition to lessons for the train engineer, I hope the conductor staff will understand that good customer service requires you to step outside of what is expected in extreme and unexpected conditions.

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A Library Nerd’s Birthday


Today 50 years ago, I was born.  I was a few weeks early and my mom thought she had indigestion, until her water broke.  I believe from the day and hour in which I was born, until the various dates of my parent’s deaths that I was loved.  My dad wasn’t there for my birth but he was always there for my life.  Birthdays were always special and involved a chocolate marble cake with the most delicious chocolate icing created by his hands.  It is from my parents that I learned to love books and reading.  Our house was always filled with all types of books novels, non-fiction, magazines, comic books, newspapers, if it had words we read it…and hoarded it.

Due to the genetic love of books it is no surprise where I came to write this blog today.  I sit in one of my favorite places.  The United States Library of Congress, specifically in the Main Reading Room.  I have had a library research/reader card for a few years now but it still felt magical to walk through the researchers only and accessed limited hallway.  Taking the reserved elevator and entering into the beautiful and majestic space that is the center of the universe of all U.S. libraries still gives me tingles.

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View from desk 334..Main Reading Room

Yes, I know most people want to spend their 50th birthday on an island or far away destination; however, I chose my nation’s capital city for this blessed day and week.  And purposely this space to write this blog post.  Washington, DC is a pivotal place for democracy even though lately there has been a stale mate among political parties.  However, I believe democracy is the better form of government.

Those who’ve followed my blog know that I support the Democratic Parties Presumptive Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.  Today the FBI advised that there were no findings to indicate malice or ill intent regarding to deleted or missing emails.  This translates to know recommendation of criminal charges by the FBI to the U.S. Justice Department.  I never thought there would be anything found.  It is frustrating to see all the rocks that have been thrown toward former Secretary Clinton.  My belief is that strong women and ironically even those who stand by their spouses still are given grief.  I am not going to go into why I support her…you can read that on my blog “Why I Support Hillary Clinton for President”.  My reasons have not changed.

Now, I know why not talk about something other than government?  Well being born the day after the nations 190th birthday, I get giddy about government and democracy.  Oh yes and fireworks as well as good ribs and family cookouts.  Yesterday there were cloudy fireworks but awesome cannon sounds.  My husband and I attended “A Capitol Fourth” produced and aired live by PBS.  Well interestingly the fireworks broadcast were not those we witnessed.  This was a big slight on PBS for omitting this information and not being upfront.  Still I saw many amazing entertainers including Smokey Robinson, Yolanda Adams, and Kenny Loggins.

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View of the Main Reading Room Dome

Looping back, I am sitting in the Library of Congress because I love libraries.  They are filled with so much knowledge and information ready for you to find and read.  I know if I lived in the DC area this would be my primary place to write and study.  I plan to return during this week but today the 50th anniversary of my birth, I had to come to this place.  I can close my eyes and smell the scent and hear the crinkle of books at my childhood library.  Fredrick Douglass Chicago Public Library in North Lawndale community is where I received my first library card.  I don’t know where the card is today but the memories are still within me.  And my love for libraries is even stronger.

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Representing the CMA at the White House


On June 1st awaking to an azure blue Washington, DC sky, I had a flutter of butterflies while preparing for a very special visit.  I had taken great effort to select an ensemble that reflected the inspiration exhibited in the Columbia Museum of Art galleries.  The main pop of color was a hue of chartreuse.  Entering the lobby of the hotel where CMA Executive Director Karen Brosius was waiting, I laughed when I saw two other ladies wearing similar color schemes. Director Brosius and I, were among a total of 20 individuals that would later stand on stage with First Lady Michelle Obama in The White House.

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Part of the Official Invitation

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Official IMLS Booklet and My Bio

The 20 (10 institution heads & 10 community members) represented 5 libraries and 5 museums.  We all were in the nation’s capital for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service ceremony.   The national medal is awarded by the Institute of Museums and Library Services; and is presented by Mrs. Obama.  It is a once in a lifetime award and Columbia Museum of Art was the only art museum this year.  I was honored to be selected as the community member who accompanied Director Brosius and Board President Claude Walker to Washington, DC.

Telling the cab driver “White House please” was a dream come true.  Upon arriving to the designated gate you could feel the electricity of excitement.  We were all as giddy as children on Christmas morning.  Once done migrating through the various security areas we entered into a space just outside of the East Wing of the White House.  We were all guest of Mrs. Obama and therefore were able to carry purses and use the powder room to freshen up.  Ascending a beautiful staircase to the second floor we entered into the grandeur that is the people’s house.  There was a quick walkthrough of the ceremony and then we were free to roam.

In front of Jackie Kennedy Portrait

In the First Ladies Portrait Room

Looking out on the South Lawn

Looking out on the South Lawn

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Looking toward the Rose Garden

Chilling In The Red Room

In the Red Room before the ceremony.

I enjoyed wandering between the East Room, Red Room, Blue Room, Green Room, and State Room.  I never wanted for anything and I truly felt like an honored guest.  Sitting and chatting with the other attendees, such as Robin Sparkman CEO of StoryCorps was magical.  Shortly before the ceremony we had a private meeting and photo with the First Lady, Mrs. Obama is everything you’d imagine and more in person.  She is regal and gracious.  Upon entering the East Room for the ceremony it was a humbling moment to hear the applause guests and attendees.

The Columbia Museum of Art had the pleasure of sitting directly in front of the podium.  Listening to the opening remarks by both IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew and Mrs. Obama showed the importance of the institutions receiving this year’s national medal.  Due to the work in the community the CMA & the other awardees are anchors and a resource to uplift.  A reception directly followed the ceremony with delicious heavy hors d’oeuvres.  Both Director Brosius were interviewed by the Post & Courier regarding the ceremony and what the national medal will mean for the CMA.

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Photo Credit IMLS Staff: CMA Director, First Lady, Community Member(Author)

Mingling in the Blue Room it seemed as though it couldn’t get any better.  Visiting rooms steeped in history, I spoke with the President and Community Member of the Chicago History Museum, one of my favorite hometown museums.  Someone in the White House staff directed us to the Blue Room window, where we saw in the distance a helicopter.  Upon its we realized that it was a military helicopter and then it clicked.  “It’s Marine One”, we shouted.  Excited we looked and waited to see if President Obama was aboard.  He wasn’t but soon he came out to the lawn to board and before boarding, he waved to us.  What a fabulous surprise.

Surprise Marine One and POTUS

Photo taken by: Christian Hopkins, Community Member, Tomaquag Museum

Meeting First Lady of the United States and seeing the President of the United States was definitely a major highlight of this trip.  However, the beacon and jewel was definitely the awarding of the 2016 National Medal of Museum and Library Service.  It was a surreal and amazing experience to be selected as the Community Member.  I know the CMA Board & other leadership will not rest on their laurels after receiving this prestigious award.  I believe now they we will have an even wider wing span to soar.  I look forward to working with the CMA to ensure expanded outreach to the community.

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I Choose Love


Last Friday, June 10th the memorial service of the late great Muhammad Ali was televised and streamed live.  It was an interfaith service filled with love.  The memorial was planned 10 years ago under the guidance of Ali.  Friends from across many faiths including Muslim, Christian, Mormon, Jewish, Native American just to name a few gave reflections on one of the world’s greatest humanitarians.  Throughout each message there was the underlying theme of love & kindness.

Join HandsDuring the early hours of Sunday, June 12th a gay club in Orlando, Florida was attacked by a man now known to have pledged allegiance with ISIL.  50 people were killed and 53 wounded in the attack.  This attack has caused some to say inappropriate and hateful things about choices and the LGBTQ community.  This includes the Lt. Governor of Texas who tweeted a Bible verse “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” – Galatians 6:7 NIV , he has since deleted it.  I am not a Bible scholar; I am however a Christian who believes in the golden rule.   “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31 NIV and “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1 NIV

Having friends within the LGBTQ community makes the massacre in Orlando, Florida more real.  It could have happened anywhere .  It could have involved friends who’ve been in committed relationships over 20 years and just recently able to legally marry.  These are not people following a free lifestyle…they are in monogamous relationships.  For those who would remove their judgement glasses and really look they would see regular ordinary people.  They are lawyers, doctors, teachers, law enforcement officers, fireman, military personal, bakers, and every other profession.  Most importantly, they are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, brothers, sons, fathers, uncles, and friends.

Whether it is religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation judging others to the extent where you believe it is your duty to kill or hurt them is wrong.  Hating someone for their beliefs is illogical to me.  I have stayed silent for longer than I should have.  I didn’t publicly speak up during the same sex marriage nor during the bathroom debates.  I have not posted anything during various pride events.  But the hateful murder of people enjoying themselves regardless of if you agree with their life choices is wrong.

With this post I stand as an ally to those who seek to love whom they choose.  Two consenting adults seeking the love of each other or the same with two young people I choose not to judge.  Ultimately love is the answer and will shine through hate.  The aftermath from acts of terrorism usually bring love.  It rises above the devastation and gives all those accepting of others hope.  We will never always agree but let’s stop judging each other.

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Finally, this Friday will mark the 1st year anniversary of the Charleston, SC nine massacre.  Nine Christians were murdered after Bible study in their church.  This included the pastor of Mother Emmanuel AME Church who also was a Senator.  With quick effort Dillon Ruff was found and charged with the murders.  During the initial hearing the families of the nine victims forgave him.  I confuse, I don’t know if I would have been able to do that so soon.  They allowed Christian love to overcome what I imagine was a numbing grief to say the words, “I forgive you and may God have mercy on your soul.”  These family members and the example of Muhammad Ali who embraced all faiths and beliefs, should be a constant reminder of agape love.  Love will always, always, always overcome hate.

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Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling


Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropThe 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution passed in the Senate on June 4, 1919, this was 97 years ago.  The amendment reads “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”  Specifically, this amendment allowed women the right to vote.  This June history occurred, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman named as the presumptive Presidential nominee for a major political party.

Previously the closest a woman has come to being anywhere near the Presidency was when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The invisible glass ceiling referring to women seeking to move up in business, government, or other leadership roles has been shattered.  I am happy, truly and honestly happy about a woman being a major party’s nominee but I wonder if the ceiling is self-healing?  Will the pieces come together again like in a sci-fi movie?  Or will there remain a clear opening for other women to rise through?

For females young and older around the U.S. I do believe that Clinton is a beacon of hope.  She has shown that even when mud and something else is slung her way she can take it.  This was shown back in October 2015 during an 11-hour hearing on Benghazi, like a true leader Hillary responded to the pounding of questions from the House Committee lead by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC).  Most recently Clinton showed Presidential poise when she gave her speech on foreign policy.  In response to her speech and the comments around the instability of Donald Trump the presumptive republican nominee, Trump came back with random comments none of which related to his foreign policy plan.

Under constant investigation from when she was First Lady of the United States, U.S. Senator, and most recently Secretary of State, her record has and continues to be picked apart.  Just as President Obama faces obvious racism as the first African American President, Clinton will continue to face scrutiny if elected as the first woman President.  Sadly, the U.S. has issue with what is different and out of the norm and the norm are white males in leadership.  I would like to note that while giving her speech the night of major wins on June 7th she complemented her opponent Bernie Sanders.  Upon her comments there was respectful clapping of her supporters.  Yet when he complemented Clinton during his speech there were boos from the crowd.  Sanders did not even blink nor did he admonish the negative response.

Finally, I want there to be a day when we don’t have to focus on the fact a woman is in a position of power.  Whether it is the CEO of a major corporation or the nominee of a major political party.  The U.S. is merely catching up with other countries who have had female leaders for decades now.  Great Britain, Germany, Norway, India as well as many more nations have and have had female leaders in the highest offices or within the monarchy.  Now that this history has been made let’s move forward to the issues.

Content originally published by The MinorityEye on June 9, 2016

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A PaisleyPerspective on Prince


prince-passport-photo-prince-rogers-nelsonThree weeks ago from today, on Thursday, April 21, 2016 the planet lost one of the most innovative musical talents of this generation. Prince Rogers Nelson was found unresponsive in his Paisley Park home and after attempts of CPR was pronounced dead at 10:07am. I heard the news from my husband and was completely in shock, sitting at my desk not knowing what to say. I felt numb for the remainder of the day with questions of why and how swirling in my head.

Since his death rumors and investigations surrounding a drug overdose have been circulating. The autopsy was completed quickly but an offical report is still forthcoming. In the meantime all the rumors of why and how Prince died are media speculations. I was thinking how to speak about the various rumors but realized I didn’t have the experience of what Prince was coping with regarding the pain from years of amazing dancing and performances. Then a dear friend posted the perfect words and experience on her Facebook status. I share these words with you.

“As we age, more and more of us have so many medications for what ails us that we end up with those ‘Day of the week/ AM-Noon-PM’ pill boxes to keep the dosages straight. My adult son refers to my pill case as my ‘Drug Advent Calendar’. He manages my meds because I get tired of fighting with the packaging and resort to ripping everything open with my teeth, since, I don’t want to take the pills in the first place, because I hate the side effects.”

“Our doctors are quite happy to dispense whatever the pharmaceutical companies are pushing that week. It is up to our pharmacists, us, and our loved ones to make certain that Drug A is compatible with Drug B. The drugs that I am meant to take to reduce ear aches, maintain my balance, fluid levels, and phantom pain are so strong that I stopped taking them during the day. I would take them after dinner, and from 2012 to 2014 I have only my son’s version of events to confirm what I said or did from 8pm to 8am during those years. I have no memories of those nights, whatsoever. Dog walks, films seen, conversations – I have no memory of any of it. Half of what my doctors have prescribed is illegal in South Korea, where I work, hence, I have weaned myself off of these meds in preparation for an extended visit to country.”

“Going deaf hurts. Some days my ears hurt so bad that I would take pill after pill in search of relief from the pain. By pain, I mean the sensation of being stabbed in the ear through to the other ear with a hot metal kebab skewer.  This is while also feeling like someone is trying to loop a crochet hook around the electrodes behind my ear to pull out my cochlear  implants, out of my head through my nose. All happening, while I fall over with vertigo and throw up. Falling while being sick is a bad combo. Yes. Like that, only worse.”

“If you have ever had an ongoing illness, the thing you want most is decent advice about pain management. Unfortunately, pain management generally involves a level of talking therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. Sadly, I’ve yet to live in a country that will spend money on mental health when a pill can be prescribed. Few doctors, and I mean private health care, even offer pain management as part of a treatment.”

“I was given some pills once to try to cure any bacterial infection that could have been causing my rapid hearing loss. Tramadol, I later found out that it’s given to heroin addicts as a substitute. I remember that weekend vividly. I hallucinated that I was flying. I could clearly see the top of my kitchen cupboards and realized that my housekeeping was lacking as I could see every speck of dust on top of the cupboards and fridge. My son called my doctor. His advice? “Ride it out the drug trip to kill any bacteria.” When I see my specialist I like to remind him of the time he forced me to have a bad drug trip.”

“Another time I was given a new medicine that made me ill for hours. I was on the bathroom floor for so long that I considered having my mail forwarded there. My veins hurt, My blood felt dirty. My son flew back from out of the country to go to the doctor with me.  I was technically treated for an overdose even though I had only taken the prescribed AM and noon dosage – 2 pills over 5 hours – before I felt as if I were dying. A different pill, a different meal, a different drink – even a new shampoo -it can all cause a bad drug reactions.”

“Not everyone on strong meds is a likely drug addict, and people with chronic long term illnesses are not necessarily drug abusing junkies when they over-medicate and things go wrong. Such as…Heath Ledger? I had pneumonia. I would have taken anything available to breathe, so I can see how Prince may have overmedicated and died. I know aging people, stuntmen, dancers, and people who stand all day who sometimes have really bad days of chronic pain every damned waking moment. They take one more pill to try to cope with the pain in hopes of feeling ‘normal’, in search of that feeling when your flu passes and you can breathe normally and your body doesn’t ache, that joy of not being at war with your physical being.”

“There’s a man who danced like a dervish in heels for years, doing splits that I couldn’t manage when I was a cheerleader. Is it any surprise that he had hip and back issues and was on a medically prescribed course of potentially dangerous meds? Your back hurts. Your hip probably hurts, too. Cut people some slack. Aging is painful and it lasts longer than it ever has in the history of man. Take the high road. Don’t speak ill of the dead.”

I agree that aging is not fun. We all think that we will be fine when we are older. Then it creeps up on us a few aches and pains and then seeking relief. As was stated above even the most astute doctors can miss potential drug interactions or prescribe a dosage that will negatively impact us. Prince Rogers Nelson was known by his inner circle to be excessively particular with what he put into his body. He was a vegan and practiced yoga. I do not nor will I believe his death was due to inappropriate use of drugs. Like my dear friend said, I will not speak ill of the dead. Prince may you rest in perfect purple paisley peace.

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