Monday, August 8, 2022

The Art of the Apology

On a recent business trip, I was able to reconnect with one of my favorite colleagues and “wax poetic” on what seemed like everything except the business we were actually there for. Outside of family, she is probably the only person I can talk and laugh with for hours on end, and not notice time has passed thus making her an honorary “younger sister.” Because genuine spirits are often hard to find, I take time to enjoy those that are sent my way. So on the last night of the conference, we took in a final dinner and filled the evening with conversation that soon turned to the colorful topic of our relationships—be it with family, friends and, not surprisingly, loves. As expected, tales and laughter ensued along with a few “Girl bye's!” added for emphasis and several “Say what now's?” thrown in for good measure. That’s when she upped the story-time-ante with an anecdote about “the one who got away.” 

With conference sessions officially over, time to kill, and plenty of food and drinks to devour, I was able to indulge in her account of their journey which, thanks to technology, was largely archived in Facebook messages. She highlighted how they began; the miscommunication that had gotten them off track; her belief that she’d been wronged; and concluded with the update that she’d seen him in recent years, but the reception was less than friendly. Being inquisitive by both nature (and degree 😉), I dug a bit deeper in trying to connect the dots—or rather—how the dots got disconnected. So, she handed me her phone and told me to have it. 

I began to scroll, reading messages that weaved throughout their college years leading to adulthood punctuated by family deaths, the birth of children, and concluding in the last few years with their final run-in at an event of a mutual friend. I returned her phone to her and “lovingly” stated, “Girl, you were a whole -------!” Luckily thanks to our no-holds-barred style of communication, she seemingly took no offense but, instead, burst into laughter before genuinely asking, “You think so?” I stated, “Absolutely. You were NOT the victim in this story; HE was!” I’ll spare the details that brought me to my conclusion but, by the end of dinner, she shared genuine remorse regarding their detachment, which led us to the topic of if there was anything she should or needed to do. I simply stated, “Reach out and apologize for your part in the demise of the relationship. If nothing else, you’ll set yourself free and maybe him too.”

 And so, at that dinner table, with the evening sun beautifully setting on the verandah of the restaurant (and with a bit of “liquid courage” along with me rooting her on) she did…and he immediately responded—addressing her by the playful nickname he’d given her back in their college days—thanked her for her kind words and apology and, just like that, a friendship was renewed. And with both being single, it could not be denied that the possibility of more now existed in their space. At the end of the night, she stated that moment was the highlight of her entire trip (even wondering if that was the Divine reason she even came to the conference) and thanked me for helping her reconnect with a person she truly missed having in her life. I was happy to have helped a friend in such a meaningful way. However, I know I would not have been able to offer such advice if I had not begun to put this action more into practice in my own life. 

Let’s face it: apologies can be difficult. However, being human is also difficult, and so mistakes and missteps will occur whether perpetrated by us or occurring to us. Unfortunately, as perpetrator--whether intentional or not--we often times hold on to the belief that offering an apology highlights our flaws and makes us appear weak. At other times, we believe the apology lets the other person off the hook for their part in the transgression. And as a result, we'll often choose to wait for the infraction to be brought to our attention, at which time we may gaslight the other person by playing "clueless," thus diminishing or dismissing their pain; or we simply convince ourselves that because the issue wasn’t immediately raised--if at all--it obviously wasn’t "that bad."

However, what I’ve learned is that the true art of the apology is acting on that small, still voice that tells you to give the apology before it has to be asked for. It has been the most empowering and liberating behavior I’ve learned to embrace in recent years; that is, to grant that gift to a person without them having to seek it. Because truth is, most of us are in tune with our inner voice that tugs on our conscience and heart when we’ve done something or someone wrong; the growth is in acting on that inner voice without needing to be told you should. 

Fortunately, in putting this into practice, the Universe returned the example to me recently in the form of a coworker (surprisingly, an older, white gentleman) who apologized for not speaking to me in the break room weeks earlier. I barely remembered but also was totally unbothered by the incident in the hustle and bustle of work life (and in getting coffee), but I appreciated his humility and humanity. It was an opportunity for me to delightfully be on the receiving end of experiencing that which I’m practicing to more freely give. And it was a reminder that nothing is ever lost by giving an apology, even if the recipient genuinely states it isn't necessary. For what it most certainly does is give others an example of how to extend peace and grace to those who need it and, in turn, increase one's own.

Ironically, on the departure day of my business trip back home, I woke up with a tiny tug of regret in my own heart for addressing my friend’s past relationship actions in such a “colorful way” during dinner despite her laugher. As I waited for my Uber, I sent her a farewell text message along with an apology for my offensive language toward her. She responded that no apology was needed and that she in fact appreciated when folks kept it “all the way real” with her but thanked me for doing so anyway. It was a reminder that we not only should practice what we preach on these journeys to being our best selves, but that when we’ve reached a milestone in our growth, we have a responsibility to preach what we’ve practiced as well in hopes that it will inspire others to do the same. 

Photo Credits: N/A

Monday, June 27, 2022

Roe v. Wade v. Kennedy

It’s been a while since I’ve engaged in the “reflection” aspect of my blog. Blame it on a lack of free time or an oversaturation of opinions on pressing topics in which I often share the same views. In other words, if somebody else has already said it—and said it well—I often don’t feel the need to add one more “amen” to the corner. However, the recent and stunning—though not unexpected—overturning of Roe v. Wade was my exception. With outrage that has been palpable, and commentaries both subjectively enlightening and at times infuriating, the “think pieces,” podcasts, and political commentaries have been in abundance. So, again, I wondered if my thoughts and feelings on the matter were possibly not needed, until I reconciled that I hold a unique—and possibly surprising to some—perspective on and connection to this historical event. 

I was born in August of 1973—a mere seven months after the January 22, 1973 passage of the Supreme Court’s 7–2 decision in favor of “Jane Roe” (later identified as Norma McCorvey), declaring that women in the United States had a fundamental right to choose whether to have abortions without excessive government restriction and striking down Texas’s abortion ban as unconstitutional. Let’s be clear: many women have made this decision for themselves for years prior to Roe v. Wade albeit illegally, which often lead to dangerous and, most disturbingly, life-ending consequences. The law did not give them permission to make these decisions; it gave them the freedom to make these decisions and be medically, legally and, at times, financially supported in doing so, regardless of their individual choice and right for needing to or simply wanting to make this decision. However, what makes Roe v. Wade so personal to me, is that my mother was facing this very decision while carrying me. 

A military wife and homemaker, and already mother of five, my mother was surprised by the news that she was pregnant (again) with me in the fall of 1972 (affectionally leading me to later be labeled the “oops child”). However, far more pressing than an unexpected pregnancy was that my mother was nearing the age of 40 in a few short months. Today, most folks wouldn’t scoff at someone starting a family at that age (even if still not being medically encouraged). Yet during those years, it was considered extremely high risk, compounded by the fact that my mother suffered from severe hypertension. As a result, the latter raised great concerns for her medical team regarding the impossibility of a successful pregnancy, stating that her placenta may not properly develop and/or separate from her uterus, thus depriving me of oxygen and leaving me severely mentally impaired. Because of this, her doctor—and without question in light of the then newly legalized abortion rights for women—presented my mother with this very option. 

Me--the Miracle Baby
Understandably, the news rocked my mother to her core and she was left, along with my father, to make a literal life-changing decision. However, being a highly religious woman from the South, my mother instead chose to rely on her faith that all would go well and decided to move forward with carrying me to full term--a decision her doctor vowed to support her through by sending her to a clinic that specialized in complicated pregnancies. As for my father, he also supported my mom’s decision and—in true fashion for anyone who knew him—casually stated to her, “Well, we’ve already been blessed with five healthy kids, so if this one is not, it’s ok.” Well, the fact that you’re reading this blog that I've written lets you know how things turned out. And although I’ve been fun lovingly called “crazy” by those who appreciate my humor, I think we can confidently say the proof has been in the "accomplishments pudding" to the contrary (wink). 

My loving parents. RIP.
Throughout my mother’s life, she would recount this story to me on occasion and every time it would make me as emotional as it does now. Moreso because it demonstrated to me that my parents embodied an amount of faith that I am not ashamed to admit I do not (yet) have and—in a similar situation—cannot for certain say I would have been able to lean on in order to make the same decision. My parents would continue to demonstrate such levels of faith throughout our family’s history of tragedies and triumphs that would provide my siblings and I a blueprint to rely on in navigating our own trials and tribulations. So why am I sharing this story? Because despite these unbelievable demonstrations of faith and the blessing that occurred in the form of my miraculous birth and very existence, I remain Pro Choice—not just for me but for every woman who may need to make this decision for a myriad of reasons that should never have to be explained. 

Although most would look at my mother’s decision as her being Pro Life, the irony is that being allowed to CHOOSE to be Pro Life is in itself Pro Choice. Am I grateful for my parent’s decision? Of course. But would I have been disappointed if they chose not to make that ultimate sacrifice just for me, and undoubtedly impact their own lives and those of my siblings? Of course not. How could I be when I would have had no existence or knowledge of a world with me in it? It is because of this reason that arguments “on behalf of the unborn fetus,” have always felt both audacious and flimsy, but I digress. Without a doubt, I am certain my mother made her choice because a life of “what if’s” would have been far harder for her to bear than any hardship of caring for me but, again, it was a choice she was allowed--and had full governmental rights--to make. 

Therefore, seeing this reversal of history has been nothing short of egregious, not only because of this country’s long-standing obsession with governing bodies—be it a woman’s or, most historically, people of color—but because the ramifications of this reversed decision will be catastrophic and the Pandora’s Box that has been opened, thus threatening human rights of every ilk will, without a shadow of a doubt, be called into question mostly under the guise of Christianity, backed by conservatism, yet fueled by greed and control. Spanish philosopher George Santayana once stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Sadly, as the recent 2022 Sundance Film Festival selection documentary, “The Janes,” so captivatingly explored, remembering the past is not the problem; forgetting we need to fight to keep from returning to it is. 

Unfortunately, the past is very much now our present. Yet the only sliver of hope is the truism that history always repeats itself—for better or for worse. Therefore, the same fight that was required leading up to the 1973 landmark decision is the same fight that must be reignited now. It is a fight we all must engage in because regardless of where your political, personal, or spiritual convictions fall on this debate of life versus death, what are someone else’s rights that lost today will be your rights that are lost tomorrow. What you choose may not be what I choose; what I choose may not be what you choose, but every choice should be left to the individual doing the choosing. And although this country has not always delivered on upholding those unalienable rights especially for those who often needed them the most, it in no way absolves us from relentlessly demanding these promises be fulfilled. That can never be a choice; that must always be mandatory.   

Photo Credits: N/A

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Sundance Festival Debuts Several Must-See Black Films

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to hold its grip on our return to normalcy, the Sundance Film Festival kept things moving forward by offering its attendees a virtual experience for the second year in row. Although a limited number of events were held in Park City, Utah, and at satellite theaters across the country, the switch from in-person to virtual did not cost the festival its greatest commodity: an array of quality films on the horizon. Therefore, in the spirit of Black History Month, make note of a few must-see films and documentaries about and by persons of color heading to your local theater or your favorite streaming platform soon. 

Emergency

I thought perhaps I was being a bit over-zealous when I selected Director Carey Williams' film "Emergency," as my festival kickoff pick, since it debuted at 11 p.m. on a Thursday night. I needn't have worried since the rollercoaster ride writer K.D. Dávila takes viewers on not only kept me wide awake, it also kept me on the edge of my seat. "Emergency" follows straight-A college student Kunle and his carefree best friend, Sean, as they plan for the most epic night of their lives by attempting to be the first Black students to complete their college's legendary end-of-semester, frat row, multi-parties stroll. However, their plans are suddenly and frighteningly interrupted when a quick pit stop home finds them discovering an unidentified white girl passed out on their living room floor. Faced with the decision of calling the police and possibly risking their own lives under such questionable circumstances, Kunle, Sean, and their Latino roommate, Carlos, must find a way to de-escalate the situation and save a life while not risking their own, simultaneously pitting the roommates--and their ideologies surrounding police brutality--against each other. Although leveraged by several comedic moments, the laughs will in no way allow viewers to avoid asking themselves that critically important question: "What would I do in this situation?" "Emergency" is slated for a spring release in theaters and on Amazon Prime. 

Descendant

When I saw Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the legendary Roots hip hop band listed among the executive directors of the documentary, "Descendant," I was confident it would not disappoint, especially after viewing Questlove's much lauded 2021 Sundance debut, Summer of Soul. Directed by Margaret Brown, "Descendant" tells the story of the Clotilda--the last slave ship that illegally arrived off the coast of Mobile, Alabama in 1860--and its enslaved ancestors who mobilized after emancipation to form Africatown, which still exists today and remains populated by the ship's descendants. Although the ship was intentionally destroyed after its final voyage in an attempt to erase history, the desperate search for any pieces of the ship's remains are fueled by a community fighting against the threat of also being erased due to "industrialized racism" and their fight to keep their rich heritage and legacy alive. Of important note, after "Descendant" debuted, it was announced that it had been picked up for worldwide distribution by Netflix and Higher Ground, Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company. Now if that doesn't give it the stamp of approval, nothing will. Check it when it drops later this year. 

jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy

It's safe to say that the antics of Kanye West as of late have been akin to a trainwreck you can't look away from. Ironically, I couldn't look away from "jeen-yuhs" either, but for a completely different reason. Now make no mistake about it: Kanye is always going to Kanye, but it's something engaging about seeing young Kanye; southside of Chicago Kanye; producer-only Kanye, desperate to be a something more than a beats maker and even more desperate to convince those around him that he could be. The documentary, which was born one fateful night at Jermaine Dupri’s birthday party in 1998 when Clarence "Coodie" Simmons, a Chicago public access TV host, first interviewed the 21-year-old, follows West and his move from Chicago to New York City to land a record deal. Simmons decided to keep his camera rolling, and recorded West for years, highlighting the hustle of his now friend and budding producer through his rise to global icon. Although Sundance only debuted part 1 of the trilogy, which included scenes of a young Kanye pacing the Roc-A-Fella hallways playing any staffer who--often irritably--would pause from their duties to give his early version of "All Falls Down" a passive listen to the intimate conversations captured between Kanye and his mother, Donde, it was enough to make me look forward to parts 2 and 3 for a closer look at the man behind the music and often the mayhem."jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy" is set to debut on Netflix February 16th. 

We Need to Talk About Cosby

Sigh. Actually, make that super heavy sigh. Before comedian and now director W. Kamau Bell's documentary of the fall of America's favorite TV dad--Bill Cosby--could hit the screen, the debates had begun regarding whether Bell should have embarked on this project at all, which many saw as a betrayal to the black community. However, just as Bell stated the loss of an icon was one that he struggled with personally, it quickly becomes evident that he was not alone and that "we" all needed to talk about this loss as a family. This is why--akin to Bell's relaxed yet quirky conversational approach to the hard-hitting subjects he features on his weekly CNN series, United Shades of America,--the documentary feels less like "trial by armchair jury" and more like that late-night conversation you have sitting around with family after Thanksgiving dinner, when everyone is too full and too tired to keep it anything less than real. With that, Bell digs into Cosby's nearly 50 years in show business as one of the most recognizable Black celebrities in America and what his work and actions say about America then and now. With commentary from such notable analysts as Jemele Hill, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Todd Boyd, fellow actors and long-time friends of Cosby, and, most importantly, several of Cosby's victims-turned-survivors, "We Need to Talk" urges us to reconsider not only what we know about Cosby but also about the culture that produced and celebrated him. The documentary which is currently airing on Showtime, is delivered in four, hour-long segments. 

That's it; that's all for now, folks. As you trudge through these last few months of a more-brutal-than-expected winter, may these hot releases and the promise of those to come, keep you entertained until we're all back outside. Continue to stay safe!

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Monday, December 27, 2021

The Insecure Finale: Was It Molly's Show All Along? - A Think Piece

Of course I'm being facetious with the title of this blog post. Even those who haven't watched a single episode of Insecure are sure to have at least heard of its powerhouse, multi-hyphenated star and show creator, Issa Rae, who took her "The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl" (ABG) YouTube series in 2011 and parlayed it into a 30-minute sitcom and runaway hit over at HBO in 2016 that garnered upward of over a million viewers each of its five seasons. Although ABG dealt singularly with Rae's many, well, awkward adventures while navigating life as a twenty-something, single, African-American, Los Angelean, the HBO sitcom would partner her with a cast of characters as besties also on a similar journey in figuring out this thing called life.
  
Enter Molly Carter, the sharp-dressed attorney/homegirl and ride-or-die friend that Issa's character would describe as someone "white people lovvveeddd and black people lovveddddd." Then there was Kellie Prenny, the sexually liberated, financier who would never enter or leave a room without dropping a (often inappropriate) quip that would leave everyone in stitches. And rounding out the crew was Tiffany DuBois, the conservative, boo'd-up-since-college, wife, publicist and AKA sorority sister to Molly. Mix this cast of characters with a sprinkle of the highs and lows of dating, job woes, family drama, a few freestyle raps, and you got the hit we've all come to know and love, and whose ending we now mourn. On Sunday night, Insecure dropped its equally anticipated yet dreaded series finale for those of us who saw ourselves as the fifth friend of this squad that we got together and "ki-ki'd" with each Sunday night. We wanted to know where they'd go from here? What we'd do without them? But most importantly, we wanted to know where--or make that who--Issa's character would ultimately end up with? 


In season 1, episode 1, we found Rae's character lamenting a five-year relationship with boyfriend, Lawrence, that felt like it was going nowhere, in particular after he had lost his job, was attempting to create a new app and probably, unbeknownst to himself and Issa, was existing in a state of depression. Rae's character would also comment that four of those five years saw Lawrence trying to get himself together. After his dropping the ball on celebrating her birthday, leading Issa to hit up a nightclub with Molly and "coincidently" run into Issa's ex, Daniel, the series would take us on an additional five-year rollercoaster ride of breakups, makeups, side chicks, side dudes, baby mama drama, career changes, friendship fallouts and makeups, and even a shot in the eye (if you know, you know. LOL).  Alliances were created in the form of the "Issa Hive" and the "Lawrence Hive," i.e., viewers taking sides on how both characters should navigate life without the other character. And all the while Molly, Kellie, and Tiffany would navigate equally--if not more challenging life obstacles--postpartum depression, the death of a parent--hell, even one character's own death (hey, you'd have to see it to understand), reinforcing how the uncertainties of life can often leave us feeling insecure about the choices we've made in life. 

However, we trusted by the end of the series--as we often hope for ourselves--we'd see a glow-up for all of the characters that would make all of the lessons learned and hardships endured worth it. And in many ways Insecure hit its mark: Molly, after more failed relationships than we care to count, found herself at the altar with, as one viewer put it, her "economic equal" and law firm colleague (who she once saw as her nemesis), loving her safely and unconditionally like she always wanted and deserved. Kellie who, for as long as viewers can remember, rallied against the idea of parenthood, unexpectedly announced her pregnancy after a year-long relationship with a partner who, from the few words spoken and calming energy he exuded, let viewers know he just lets Kellie be Kellie, which is always what she needed. And Tiffany, who begrudgingly (and fearfully) moved with her husband and toddler to Denver in the middle of the final season was slowly finding her new stride all while being pregnant with a new life. And then there was Issa. 

In all fairness, Issa's character experienced her share of life-changing pivots during the series as well--quitting her job at the "We Got Y'all" nonprofit, which assisted inner city youth, without having a real career path plan in place and taking a gig as an Uber driver and an apartment manager in the interim to make ends meet; embarking on relationships with a few promising suitors (who she ultimately sabotaged futures with); and stepping out on faith to throw her own neighborhood block party to showcase local talent. Ultimately, the latter, would lead her to her true passion in the last two seasons in the form of starting her own nonprofit--The Blocc--designed to help artists of color in L.A. find spaces and platforms to showcase their work. Even a huge blowout with Molly in season four, which threatened to end the friendship forever, found her more introspective and them closer than ever by the series end. Yet the proverbial cloud that hung over the series for five seasons was whether Issa and Lawrence would find their way back to each other. And, spoiler alert, they did. 

Despite the history of cheating on both of their parts, ultimately leading Lawrence to a new relationship that would produce a son and Issa struggling to accept his new reality, the "love conquers all" adage reared its head and the closing scene showed Issa leaving her nonprofit's new brick-and-mortar office in L.A, cruising in her new Lexus to her new home, and opening the door to find Lawrence and his now pre-school aged son waiting with a cake to wish her a happy birthday. The sparkling diamond on Issa's left hand let viewers know without a word being uttered about it that the two were now engaged. Mic drop. Series end.

Like most, I was filled with a mix of emotions: joy that each character seemed to have found their happy ending; sad that they'd no longer be there each week to provide us the much needed escapism from our own realities. Afterward, there was time spent on social media platforms enjoying the shared feelings and much-deserved praise for Issa and her writing team's ability to create storylines that engaged viewers across demographics (case and point, on the night the finale aired, I got calls from one of my sisters who is in her 60s as well as texts from my nephews who are in their 20s, all wanting to discuss the show's end and how they felt about the choices each character made).

Then there was the group texts between friends sharing their thoughts on possible alternate endings, reminiscing on situations that got the characters to where they are, and creating imaginary futures for them beyond the show's end. I crawled into bed spent yet seemingly at peace, but--as a friend I spoke with later likened to a stomach bug--something was bothering me but I wasn't sure what it was. Then it hit me: Issa hadn't really grown as much as she was being credited with, making the celebration of her "happily ever after" a bit questionable. I immediately grabbed my phone and shared my "a ha" moment with a friend and she quickly replied that there was a reason she couldn't sleep either, and she wasn't sure why until I had possibly unearthed the reason: the return to Lawrence was a bit unrealistic and, as one person tweeted, somewhat irresponsible (as evidenced by the number of viewers contemplating calling ex's and getting that old thang back) leaving an unsatisfying taste in my mouth. 

Now don't get me wrong: anyone that knows me knows I'm the biggest champion you can find for Black Love. But I'm also well aware how most women approach and process breakups, especially when the woman is the "breaker-uper." Issa set in motion the breakup with Lawrence in season 1. And although women are often labeled as being "emotional," when it comes to break-ups we're largely analytical, meaning we've turned that thing around in our heads a million times, back and forth, up and down, and running multiple scenarios of the aftermath before actually pulling the trigger. It's rarely done haphazardly nor with huge regret. Sadness? Of course. Regret, not often. 

Yes, there are exceptions to every rule but, it's for that reason that when women initiate break-ups, they often don't return to those relationships--ever--which makes Issa's being stuck in this regret for five years, even having it overshadow almost every decision she made, only to have her return, unthinkable. Unlike Molly et al., who used their failed relationships to propel them forward toward growth, Issa's relationship became a proverbial albatross around her neck that she was never able to unshackle herself from all the way to the final frame. And as my friend pointed out, a framing shot in which she didn't even appear authentically happy. In fact, it was a decision we felt was primarily motivated out of fear of letting her past life completely go and out of an angst of seeing everyone move on to their new lives quicker than she anticipated. Lawrence was always "home base"; a safe space she needed. And we all know when you're in need more than you're in want, your decision making can be greatly impaired. And that's when I realized this was Molly's show all along. 

If fans are honest with themselves, that warm joy we felt as the credits rolled were really about Molly's story arc, not Issa's. When we first met Molly, she was overworked at her firm, holding her family together, maneuvering through multiple dating apps, and juggling hope and heartbreak like a champ. She tried on various relationships and, when they didn't quite fit, she wasn't afraid to move on and trust love again. We watched her challenge herself by dating outside of her race--a suggestion many African-American women have shunned in keeping hope alive for their IBM (ideal black man)--and when roadblocks would emerge in both her relationships and career, Molly ultimately did the bravest thing one can do: admit she might be her own biggest obstacle and got herself a black therapist to help her navigate this thing called life. In the end, she was thriving at an all-black-law firm (no longer shackled by the corporate myth that it has to be "white to be right"); had taken the reigns on securing her parents financial future in the nick of time (shoutout to Kelly with the assist); and had experienced enough self growth along the way to usher in the love of her life. Now THAT's a glow up and the personification of going from insecure to secure AF. Which is why Issa's constant back track to a relationship that never brought out the best in her felt like somewhat of a letdown. 


Ultimately, what Issa did was constantly change but not necessarily grow. And that became the greatest lesson we could've all taken from the ending of this series just as we prepare to exit one year and enter into the next. Do our new years resolutions, next moves, or future plans reflect areas that will promote growth or are we simply changing, be it jobs, relationships, area codes, or social circles? One of my favorite sayings is "wherever you go, there you are." If the change is not deep within; if we're not engaging in activities, behaviors, self-care, or relationships that promote growth from our core, then all we're doing is moving in circles, not really going anywhere or--perish the thought--returning to the old familiar when the going gets tough (a la Issa and Lawrence). 

Hell, perhaps their love story was true love after all and so their reconnection was kismet. But while we celebrate the now cultural icon that is Insecure and many laud Issa's character for finding her way back to Lawrence, I'm choosing to give Molly "all her things" for reminding us all that the greatest relationship you can ever have--even before finding true love--is the one you have with yourself, and that that discovery of self is most often found by having the courage to move forward and move forward boldly. As a wise person once said, "If you're scared to go, go scared." 

And to the actresses--Issa, Yvonne, Natasha, and Amanda--who portrayed these characters courageously for five seasons and allowed us to see ourselves, celebrate ourselves, laugh at ourselves and, ultimately, forgive ourselves, you deserve it all. We don't know what we're going to do without you, but we're grateful for the reminder you gave us of what we can do with love, laughter, Black Girl Magic, and a little bit of help from our friends. Kudos, ladies, and Happy New Year to all of my Sistas! May the glow up be within your grasp.

Photo Credits: N/A

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

No Wealth Greater Than Health: A Thanksgiving Reminder

It is without question that the COVID-19 pandemic brought an amount of loss and grief that remains incomprehensible. Thus, as we enter the eve of another Thanksgiving, it's safe to say that what many will be most grateful for--as vaccinations allow us to safely gather with family and friends this year--is the opportunity to do just that: gather. Yet for the many that will have the opportunity to embrace loved ones, there will be just as many experiencing empty spaces at dinner tables; managing the void of familiar laughter in rooms; reflecting on the absence of warm embraces at front doors. Like a callous thief, the coronavirus indeed robbed so many of us of so much and, for those of us who experienced those losses personally, it was a painful reminder that there is no greater wealth on earth than your health. 

For the many who contracted the virus, it was simply inevitable. As the virus came and grabbed hold of persons of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds, it showed itself as unforgiving, non-selective, and relentless. And with 5.15 million deaths worldwide (and unfortunately continuing), it remains a phenomenon unlike any we've seen in over a century, after the 1918 Spanish Flu, which claimed upward of 50 million lives. And much like the Spanish Flu, COVID-19 was a battle many just couldn't win. However, when it comes to managing health that is still within our control, the pandemic served as a wake-up call that we must be diligent in doing so not only for ourselves but for our loved ones as well. 

I was personally reminded of this recently when a close family member was left in wait about a possible diagnosis that would have most definitely put their mortality in jeopardy. What was most interesting was how their possible diagnosis had also impacted everyone around them who was quietly fearing the worst yet praying for the best. The angst and worry was palpable; the wait felt like an eternity. Yet all praise to the Most High, the results revealed my loved one was in the clear. Thanks to early screening, they were able to get ahead of a diagnosis that continues to claim the lives of so many. Much like the fear that had overwhelmed us as a family, it was soon replaced by a joy that consumed us, lending itself to a gratitude that would make this Thanksgiving more special than it has been in a long time. 

This is when I was reminded that our responsibility for managing our health is not just about us; it is about those that love us as well. For those of us blessed to have access to affordable healthcare, not taking advantage of pre-screenings, annual exams, and routine checkups is simply irresponsible--and dare I say--selfish. And for persons of color, not only should many of those screenings happen sooner than for others, but the impact of not doing so if often so much greater. For as many of us have seen, when a person's health is in jeopardy, it is often loved ones who will bare the brunt emotionally, in sacrificed time and, often, financially. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, if everyone in the United States received recommended clinical preventive care, over 100,000 lives could be saved each year. That's 100,000 less heartbreaks, 100,000 less tears and, subsequently, 100,000 less loved ones laid to rest. 

Yes, death is inevitable but premature death often remains preventable and the power is often in our very own hands. So as we slowly begin to emerge from a most painful pandemic in which we didn't have much control, take this Thanksgiving to not only be grateful for your health and the health of loved ones who are still with us, but let us all commit to remaining diligent with our own health care not just for our sake but the sake of those who love us the most. 

 Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

For a complete guide to annual health screenings by gender and age, click here

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