I’m a believer in prayer. Lord knows I am. But it’s cold outside. Real cold. There are people who are hungry, have no shelter, and are poorly clothed. If you have a coat or jacket that you don’t wear, I challenge you to take it out with you tomorrow and give it to someone. But don’t just give it meaninglessly. Ask them their name. Find out who they are and where they’re from. Maybe buy them a meal. And not a $0.99 cheeseburger (unless that’s what you can afford). Get them something you would eat. Actually, sit and share that meal with them. Remind them that that they are human and that you do see them, no matter how many people may have walked or driven by them that day without even acknowledging their humanity. Never forget that you could be that person one day. I hope you’re not, but go a couple months without a check and, at the same time, lose your support system. It can happen easier than you think.
Let’s not be so busy that all we have time to do is pray. Prayer works. Prayer plus action works faster.
Make doing something a priority.
Today’s post has been compiled from a series of reflective tweets I posted yesterday while I researched my family’s past.
Doing research on my family tree and, as I look at census records, it is easy to see how we, as Americans, are where we are today in terms of race relations. I’m looking at Eastern NC records from 1870 (naming my great-great-great-grandfather), which recorded 40 people from 9 households. There were two landowning families, both who are white. The remaining were black famers, undoubtedly sharecropping at that point in time. So, when certain American citizens say we must make America great again, I disrespectfully object to that sentiment.
As I look back at my family’s records, stretching well into the 1800s, I can truly say I am my American-born ancestors’ wildest dream. Many of them were sharecroppers, enslaved humans, or domestic workers. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. But imagine how great America could’ve been had it given a damn about their imaginations. Imagine if those black women and black men had been respected. Am I perfect? No. But I am a college-educated free man. I am entrepreneurial, a homeowner, a freethinker, and a heck of an artist.
Seriously, many of my ancestors, as recent as grandparents, didn’t make it to high school. I’ve spent years conversing with and sapping wisdom from family members who never saw the 9th grade (or even the 6th). And I’m thankful to have had them see me graduate from HS and college. Sometimes, I wonder what I did to deserve this. And then I realize the answer is, “Nothing.” But I’m here at this point in history b/c that much more is expected of me. My success isn’t about me. It’s about setting my legacy up for something greater in honor of theirs. They didn’t have the opportunities I’ve had. They didn’t have the access to education. They had to stop going to school in the spring in preparation for harvest season. Their childhood and teenage summers were spent toiling in fields while mine were spent learning math and science at the Summer Institute at Durham Academy.
Make making your ancestors proud a priority.
“My president is black.” — Young Jeezy
I still remember exactly where I was and who I was with when I found out that President Barack Obama would be the United States of America’s forty-fourth president.
Do I agree with everything President Barack Obama did? No way. I’m not brainwashed. But this man was the first black president and many of his concerns aligned with mine. Often, we forget what powers the president does and doesn’t have. But one thing I will forever be grateful for is President Barack Obama making healthcare a possibility for so many more people than it once was. It is impossible to succeed if you’re dead. It is difficult to build wealth if you’re not healthy. And it’s challenging to believe you can be something that you’ve never seen. Sure, some people have the imagination that allows them to aspire to greatness that they’ve never seen but it takes true vision coupled with unprecedented actions to be the first. So, President Barack Obama, I salute you for being the people’s president, I implore you to continue giving hope to young people who otherwise wouldn’t have much, and I thank you for being courageous enough not only to try but to do.
Oh, and let me not neglect the elegant legacy that First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama has left. She is an awesome role model. I wish the same could be said for every First Lady of the United States to come…
Make hope a priority.
“There’s beauty in the struggle.” — J. Cole
No one wants struggle. No one wants pain. No one wants to lose people, either to the circumstances of life or to the inevitability of death. But know that there is purpose in the pain. Today, as I sat and met with the Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce of one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States of America, I had to thank God. 18 months ago, I was working for minimum wage (at that point in the retail season, there was no way I was making my commission mark). I never foresaw myself having the freedom to expense not only my caffè latte but also my guest’s just a year and a half later . And, then, after that minimum wage job, I still went through another struggle with equitable compensation before landing in this role. And now, I see that it was worth the struggle. All of it, from loss of family members to fighting for equal pay led me to this point. All of it was a part of a greater plan; His greater plan. I wouldn’t have met the people I met who put me in the position to get this position without being in the challenging situations.
Stick with it. You never know when you’re going to meet that person who will change your life in the blink of an eye. Keep putting in applications. Keep putting résumés out there. Keep putting positive vibes into the atmosphere. Keep going to networking events. Keep investing in your ideas. Keep keeping on. Giving up is the only way you can fail.
I’m happy. You will be too if you believe you can be.
Make professional development a priority… and don’t quit on that journey.