Why I Love The Obamas

There have been 43 White men as U.S. President.  President Obama finally broke up the club of whiteness and added some diversity.  He is truly in all aspects of the term African-American; since he was born to a White mother from the Midwest and an African father from Kenya.  When running for office there was a dichotomy of opinion whether he was Black enough or if he was too Black.  Some wondered would the White House now become the Black House?  During all the negative rhetoric I watched not with despair but with pride to see a Black man take the oath of office to become the 44th U.S. President.  Wait, let me correct, I listened while on Pennsylvania Avenue standing in Freedom Plaza along the Inauguration Parade route just around the corner from the White House on January 20, 2009.

My journey began way back with the Obamas in 1996, when as a Clinton-Gore volunteer, I was tasked with phone banking and making down ticket calls for Barack Obama.  I didn’t know much about him except he had done organizing within his community.  He was a lawyer at that point having graduated from Harvard Law School.  He also taught constitutional law these were snippets of information provided over the course of the ’96 campaign.  It was a joyous time when on November 5, 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore were re-elected and Barack Obama won his first election for the Illinois State Senate.  During the Victory Party at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, getting my first hugs from Senator-elect Obama and his wife Michelle was heart-warming, yes they’ve always been huggers.

I relocated in 1997 to South Carolina, so Barack Obama was my Senator only for a short while.  However, I watched with pride when he was introduced to the world at the 2004 Democratic National Convention during the speech heard around the globe.  The most recognized part of the speech is:

“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

However, one of my favorite parts of the speech is:

“If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.  If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.  If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.”

After hearing this phenomenal speech everyone wanted to know who is this State Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate?  I already knew and watched from that point waiting for the moment for when he would run for U.S. President.  It wasn’t a question of if but when.

Following many rumors in February 2007, in Springfield, Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama announced his run for U.S. President.  Among other U.S. Senators running were Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  In May 2007, I stopped by the South Carolina Obama Campaign Headquarters in Columbia, SC located on the corner of Calhoun and Assembly streets and began my volunteer efforts.  Starting off doing phone banking I knew my talent was better used in other capacities.  And over time soon became what I am known best as Data Goddess.  The Obama Campaign recreated how data as well as digital media was used during a campaign.  He created via his experience of community organizing a new mold for how to run a Presidential campaign.  With the blowout win of the South Carolina Presidential Democratic Primary, Obama and not Clinton became the candidate to beat.


Taken by Staff Photographer in Manning, SC – November 2007

Upon becoming elected as the 44th President even during a campaign where rocks and stones were thrown his way, he pushed for an agenda passionate to him.  Unlike any other President before him his cabinet was filled with powerful and capable women.  Showing the importance of women, the first piece of legislation he signed was the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act Bill.”  Over the last 8 years, President Obama has signed approximately 1,350 pieces of legislation into law.  His most famous and the piece of legislation marked for repeal by the 115th U.S. Congress is The Affordable Care Act.  Coming into the White House with a dysfunctional banking system and an auto industry near bankruptcy he made tough decisions in bailing both out with federal assistance.  Even when detractors thought this was not the better solution but time has shown it was the best solution.

There are far too many things to list regarding why I have such admiration for the Obama Administration.  However, I most respect the humanness of the President.  During addresses after shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT and last year at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida we saw a very human and compassionate President.  We also saw this when speaking about the killing of Trayvon Martin and during the numerous addresses made upon unjustified shooting of Black men and women by law enforcement across the nation.  It is the humanness, dignity, and intelligence that I most admire about President Obama.

With the incoming 45th President, I am greatly concerned about the openness and dignity that President Obama brought to the White House.  I do not have confidence in the leadership to come this is based on the vitriol hate displayed during the 2016 Presidential campaign by the Republican Presidential nominee.  I admit I am a staunch liberal and a leader within the South Carolina Democratic Party, so to many of course I admire and support President Obama.  However, I am fair and try not to pre-judge but what I have seen thus far from the U.S. President-Elect does not give me great confidence in the next four years.  I do not see an inclusive or diverse White House or one open to the public in the way the Obama Administration engaged the public.

I admit as a Black woman I have watched with pride the initiatives put in place by First Lady Michelle Obama.  She has worked for military families to getting young people moving and eating healthy to fighting for girls right to education around the globe.  Being a part of history also puts a smile in my heart.  On June 1, 2016, on behalf of the Columbia Museum of Art as their Community Member, I attended the ceremony and reception for 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  It was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House.  And to the surprise of us all while in the Blue Room we saw Marine One land and take off on the White House lawn!  This opportunity seemed to be a full circle moment from when I first met the Obama’s in Chicago, Illinois.


2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Program

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Karen Brosius, Michelle Obama, Joyce Rose-Harris – White House East Room           June 2016

Finally, I say thank you President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for your leadership and dedication to the American people.  Seeing a Black couple occupy the White House makes me proud not merely because they are Black but because they worked hard to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  There was no silver spoon for them during their childhoods but there was the knowledge of how important it is to get an education and then to uplift their communities.  I will miss the weekly addresses by President Obama and the many initiatives of First Lady Obama but I know now they will take their work to Chicago, Illinois in a year or so, putting their knowledge and activism in the Obama Presidential Library and Center.  I know there is much more awesome things to come for the Obama family.  Thank you President and First Lady Obama for showing citizens of the United States and the world how to rise higher.


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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 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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In The News

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This weekend my intent was to focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Within the christian community this is the holiest of holidays. It is the time when the promise of Jesus saving the world through his crucifixion, death and then resurrection is celebrated. However, my attention has been distracted.

Bombings in Brussels have taken me to a place of wondering why are people so intolerant? Do those doing this devastation honestly believe this is the best and only way to get their message heard? There has to be a better way to speak your mind and your agenda then the death of others. This goes across vast areas (organizations & governments) and is to deep to delve into now.

Yesterday my concentration was broken regarding the recent terrorists attacks and celebrating Christ’s resurrection. I received a post on my Facebook page that had a link to an article about the support Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is receiving from Black women. The article was interesting but most interesting was the fact my face is in the photo used with the Associated Press (AP) news story. In the photo it is a friend, myself and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about to take a selfie of us.

Today, I learned that the same photograph and story is also in my local statewide newspaper. I am sure it is also in other newspapers or other sites that run AP news stories. I am mostly annoyed by this photo not because I disagree with the story content. My annoyance is because I did not give permission for my image to be used and hence wonder why this photo was published. However, I then realize there are photos of celebrities (I am not one) taken without permission and used every day in much less flattering ways.

I am going to voice my discontent with the use of my image via a letter to the editor of The State Newspaper. However, I know that my rant will probably be for naught, since as stated if you are present during a significant news moment your image may be captured and used. I have learned from this experience to be wary of the person with the super lensed camera.


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From The Editor – Issue 4 Volume 5

from_the_editor_2Here in the United States we are in the beginning of Presidential Primary season.  This is the time when major political party’s supporters specifically associated with the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, vote to determine the General Election nominee for their respective political parties.  The duration of the Presidential primary processes has expanded for all political parties.  I reside in South Carolina where our primaries are February 20th for Republicans and February 27th for Democrats.

For full disclosure let me advise that I am deeply rooted in the Democratic party.  I serve on the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council dedicated to educating women about being more active in the process.  My family has voted Democrat since the changing of ideology early during the Civil Rights movement.

I have a very strong belief that voting is important.  In Voting Matters”, I speak about the importance of voting as well as why I vote.  There are so many reasons for casting your ballot but above all it should be about ensuring the community in which you live meets your everyday needs.  This post will later be following about what should happen after you vote.

During an opportunity in October 2007, I was asked to do a poem as part of the check filing by the South Carolina Obama ’08 campaign.  Originally the title of Between The Lines” started out as Ballot Boxes.  The right to vote was not afforded to everyone at least the right to vote without intimidation and fear.  It was a hard fought victory for this right that is often hidden in textbooks, hence the name.

Earlier I indicated I am a Democrat.  Early in the Presidential primary season I made the decision to support former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  In 2008,  I was an early and strong supporter of then US Senator Barack Obama for various reasons.  I will save the blog post “Why I Support HRC” to speak to my reasons for supporting her as my 2016 candidate of choice.

Democracy allows for selection via the voting process of elected officials during various voting cycles.  It is imperative that you are part of the process.  The following three posts for February 16th I hope will inspire you to be part of the process.  Finally, in 2014 for every 100 people 60 people allowed 40 people to select there elected officials.  That means 60 people were not part of the decision making process regarding who would govern them as well as create local or federal laws.  Your vote is your voice, don’t stay silent.


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Voting Matters

I 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.

20140610-105237-39157510.jpgMy 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.

First published on PaisleyPerspective.com on October 1, 2014


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