An Open Letter: This Thanks Is For You

Dear Everyone,
It is an empowering thing to see us breaking down society’s rules of what it means to be successful and, instead, define it as our happiness. Certainly, many of us stunt a bit on S.M. but we are making progress and that’s what matters. I love scrolling down my timeline and seeing my friends defining success and joy for themselves.

Whether they just got out the bing or started their own business or got a promotion or switched careers or decided to pursue dreams of spitting bars or finished reading a book or learned a new word or quit their job to travel the world, I’m happy for you. You may have just saved your first $100 or $100,000. I am happy for you. You may have just gotten engaged or announced you’re having a kid out of wedlock. I am happy for you. I am happy because I know that every step you take, even if it is a challenging one, is another step toward your destiny. You are going to be great and you’re getting greater each day you do something that causes love in and for yourself to grow.

Life is short. If you aren’t loving it, you’re wasting it.

Sincerely,
Deryle

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Turkey Before Thanksgiving

Istanbul, Turkey was an unexpected stop on this trip but it ended up being an awesome experience.

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Eid Mubarak! Ramadan ended and the boys are back to live it up!

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Gotta hit them, hit them angles…

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Streets is watching, two point oh.

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I love to see people who love to do what I love to do.

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Faith is a beautiful thing when it’s relationship-based.

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Amateur tip: Don’t drink Turkish coffee without knowing how to drink it.

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No discussion needed. Just do it. Thanks.

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Like father, like son.

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Orville who?

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Sunset on the southern coast.

 

 

Paying It Forward

Next week, it’s time for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s homecoming! Best time of the year for me every year since 2006. Shoot, it’s so great that we got married around the time of G’s homecoming.

Today, I had lunch with two members of the UNCG family and we discussed giving to the school. Many of my friends who don’t give don’t because they are paying their loans. And yes, you’re paying money back but are you paying opportunities forward?

Were it not for UNCG, I would not be where I am today. I wouldn’t have met my best friends. Secondly, I wouldn’t have been made a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. by way of the Playboi Pi Zeta chapter. And, thirdly, I wouldn’t have received the education I did.

Now, many would say that education is the primary reason for going to a university and I agree. But it’s not the most important thing I took from my university. From it, I took relationships, a spirit to give back, and a better understanding of both business and African-American studies (along with many other subject areas). UNCG made me a more well-rounded and more prepared adult.

That’s why I give back to my institution. Why do you give back to yours? And, if you don’t, you should give something. Every dollar counts.

Make giving back a priority.

Death to (Workplace) Rape Culture

Let’s talk about the side of America and the American workplace that no one wants to: the misogynistic side. Just as America was built on the brains and backs of black people, it was birthed from the wombs, works, and wisdom of women. Why do we treat those we owe so much to so poorly? Will that forever be an inherent human flaw?

Yesterday, I had a discussion with a good, long-time friend. She told me that she has been made to feel increasingly uncomfortable at work by her (male) supervisor. Now, no matter what “level” of society you’re at, this is unacceptable but, just to give some perspective, this pretty young black lady is well-educated, makes a very good amount of money, and is more competent than a lot of people I know, regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic background. She went to college in order to secure a better life for herself and then got a job that would allow her to do exactly that. So why is she being objectified? From what I understand, she does her job and does it very well. Why, as a supervisor, would you jeopardize your own integrity, career, and team in order to strong arm someone into inappropriate relations?

Why? Because you’re a man, because you’re higher up, and because you know that Human Resources is not there to serve the employee but to protect the company. As a man, sure women will say little slick things to us and, yes, we guys do get sexually harassed at work but, historically speaking, because corporate power sides with men, we’ve always had the upper hand, sadly allowing us to do lower things. Women have been harassed, terminated, blacklisted, and forced to relocate because we men could not keep our unwanted hands to ourselves (I’ll take ownership because I’m a member of the offending group and haven’t done enough to stop it).

I’m not saying that intraoffice romance is wrong. If two consenting adults can work together without a nepotism issue, by all means, go for it. Love is a beautiful thing. But when you try to use your power to get what you want or, when you go out to office socials and try to buy shots with hopes of getting someone on your team so hammered that she “consents” to let you go home with her, you’re promoting rape culture not only in your work environment but across this nation. You’re saying that what you, as a man, want, is more important than what that woman says. And, to the HR professionals/departments that support these actions in hopes of “protecting” the company, think about it this way: If you allow rape culture to be swept under the rug and, eventually rape turns to murder, you’re an asset to murder and your company will be paying a pretty hefty sum out.

Men, your mother/sister/aunt/cousin/wife/daughter may get sexually harassed if you don’t speak out against this nonsense. Am I certain it will happen? No. But I’d rather not take that risk.

It’s sad that I had to paint that familial picture but, for some people, that’s the only way to put a human face on this epidemic that is too often overlooked. But, you know what is also sad? I had to suggest to my friend that she: A) look for another job and B) tell her direct supervisor that she has a boyfriend just so he would stop harassing her. Men, let’s take ownership over our problems and educate our sons not to be boys that will be boys but instead be young men who can and will display restraint.

 

Make respect for womanhood a priority.

What’s Really Important

The three most important things in my life are God, love, and peace. Is money nice? Sure. But I’ve had (what I saw as) obscene amounts and I’ve had none. Funny thing is, I was least happy in my life when my checking account balance was the largest it ever was as a single man. And, one of my favorite memories came at a time when I had no job, no money and my dad gave me what he had because he knew I needed it.

Love and peace are key because you cannot buy either. No matter how much money you have, you cannot purchase peace. You have to practice tranquility so that, when life does happen, as it always does, you can maintain a level of calm.

Simultaneously, love cannot be bought. Eventually, the money and the stardom dissipate. That is the ebb and flow of things. Kanye West won’t always be on the front page of The Inquirer. Joe Blow won’t always be in the unemployment line. Love has to be built on more than the right here and now.

Now, can a bunch of other subcategories be placed in those three? Certainly. I, personally, cannot have peace without health so I have to continue eating better and working out. I’m investing now in my future peace by going through a controlled level of struggle in the gym day by day. And, even though money isn’t everything, do I need to be saving so that I can enjoy retirement? Yes. Once again, it is an investment in my peace and the peace of my family.

Figure out what three things are important to you and how those three can connect to the rest of your life. Let that push you day by day.

 

Make figuring out what’s important a priority.

Is What You’re Doing Life Saving Work?

Firefighters. Law Enforcement Officers. Medical First Responders. Emergency Room Physicians.

What do all of these professions have in common? They’re seen as life savers. The work that they do is often deemed critical and necessary to our well-being and longevity. And I will not challenge that, but instead I will add some professions to that category of “super important jobs”.

Chef. Nutritionist. Physical Trainer. Teacher. Pastor. Psychiatrist. Artist. Musician. Guidance counselor. Adoption Placement Specialist. Postal Worker. Waste Disposal Specialist. I could go on and on. Any job can be a life saver. It’s all about how you treat people. Last Monday, I was out for my evening run and saw Mike, one of the groundskeepers in my development. I stopped and we talked. Just his friendly disposition, his work ethic, and his words of wisdom and encouragement brought joy to my night. Mind you, this man doesn’t own the complex. I don’t know if he’s even the head of his team. But he changed my day.

Now, I’m not suicidal. I’m actually very happy most of the time. But imagine someone, anyone, seeing a suicidal person on a day when (s)he feels like giving up. Imagine the postal worker who never paid you any mind deciding on a random Tuesday to ask how you’re doing and genuinely want to know. Imagine wanting to call it quits but you hear a small local band do a cover of your late granddad’s favorite song. Or maybe a pilot gets you to your destination safely on a trip you’ve needed to take in order to prevent yourself from having a complete meltdown. We all have been blessed with the gift of kindness. Find ways to show love in your profession and you will save more lives than you will ever know.

Any person can be a hero. Spreading happiness is a super power.

 

Make love a priority.

The King in You

Today, I write in honor of Rev. Bro. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I ask us all to look introspectively for the King in us. Search for the love, not the hate. Look for the integrity before the opportunity. Believe in the good in your fellow human being as opposed to pointing out the evil.

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

Do you see the selflessness in that language? He is a human who, like all humans, would love comfortable immortality. But he put himself in a position to sacrifice his own life for the betterment of the oppressed. These words were not just empty rhetoric. The day after Bro. King delivered this speech, his life was taken by an assassin’s bullet. He truly lived (and, as a result, died from) his selflessness. That’s a great way to loose your life isn’t it? In a selfless fashion? For a just cause? What is important enough that you would go to jail, or even die, for? Are you passionate about anything greater than you? I’m not saying you have to go out and get locked up but know there are causes that you should, as a human being, care about. People are being poisoned by the water supply in Flint, MI. Under-trained law enforcement officers are killing innocent people because their fear leads them to make rash decisions. Property tax hikes are forcing people out of the neighborhoods they have lived in their entire lives so that more money can be made. The prison industrial complex is forcing minority and impoverished people back to the slave class every day, many even before they are being convicted. These are issues we don’t have to die for to change. Or maybe we do. The Sioux tribe was ready to die for their water supply at Standing Rock. Those in the Black Lives Matter movement are ready to endure the billy clubs once experienced by our ancestors for equality under the law.

An established system will push back against radical change. Don’t believe me? Look at these recent elections on every level. People don’t like uncondoned, unforeseen change.  In 1998, Tupac Shakur said that “we ain’t ready to see a black president,” but, a decade later, one was elected. Like Martin, Barack received numerous death threats. But, instead of assassinating him, his opposition is looking to undo much of the progress made during his presidency. Either way, Barack believes this nation is important enough to put his life on the line for. Figure out what cause is as important to you and fight for it.

Believe so beautifully in something that you are willing to give up your freedom (or even your life) so the next generation can have it better. That beautiful belief, my friends, is the King in you.

 

Make a love of all humankind a priority.