Category Archives: Social Media

Make Your Mark (Stop Focusing on the Wrong S%$#)

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“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”  – Mark Twain

Focus is one of the many mysteries known to man. We all know what it is to be “focused”, but maintaining focus in one’s life is one of the greatest mysteries, because just when we think we are focused, in an instant that moment of focus can be lost. Whether it is because of our family, loved ones, work or just any randomness that can take you away from what you need to be focused on. This happens to us all. I’ve learned to create moments solely for being unfocused, since it’s inevitable. Make sense right? I have literally built in random moments of unfocused time during my constructive time where I intentionally allow myself to be unfocused. Does it work?  Sometimes, it really does. And other times those “moments” of unfocused time turns into hours on hours on hours which means I wasted hours that will never be returned to me. But our focus is so much more than a short attention span and getting distracted. It’s so much more than competing desires, interests, and wants. It’s more than fighting priorities. Let’s talk focus on a higher level, because what you focus on in life can direct your steps and determine the decisions that you make in life decisions.

It can be said that what you focus on, shows what is most important to you, and I don’t know if I always agree with the preposition. At times, we focus on what is fed to us. We are blinded by constant images, advertisements among many other things. These messages can have us focusing on things unintentionally. Since we live in the social media era, we are often change focus unintentionally based on the images we see on Facebook, Twitter, IG or even Pinterest. It’s based on our friends or even celebrities, and our priorities replaced by someone else’s life or maybe its envy or jealousy. Either way, it’s important to reset your focus as if you’re a camera. We need to be re-calibrated, because our eyes can be over saturated, and we need to hit the refresh button.

Of course, I am talking about focus because I’ve been slightly struggling with focus in my own life, but that’s not really what had me thinking about it. This summer, there have been a number of hot topics, from Caitlyn Jenner, legalization of same-sex marriage, Charleston, confederate flag removal,  one crazy admission ( that we already knew was true) from Bill Cosby, or even Donald Trump’s increasing popularity with his oddly popular (and raw ) comments regarding illegal immigration. Not to mention, globally, you have the continual Greece financial crisis, the terrorist groups, ISIS and Boko Haram are both alive, well and still wreaking havoc, amongst several other issues. At times, it feels like I am “supposed” to care about all of these things, but I am not sure I really do, not to mention these things have nothing to do with what’s actually going on in my life. But when I look at the candidates running for President and the things they choose to talk about or focus on, has made me want to evaluate how I determine what’s important to my core.  I decided to thinkabout , “what does it really mean to be focused?”.

There are three things in my opinion that make up the core of what you focus on in life: your Mind, your Heart, and your Soul. All three are inner connected, and their functions sometimes overlap, but each play into how you focus your attention on a larger scale. (Warning: I am really working in the abstract here, be patient with me).

Your heart is your core. It is highly sensitive to external influences, it can cause you to make decisions impulsively due to an emotional response that we can’t shake. The heart, my friends, is how people choose where their passions lie. The heart, is also highly sensitive to love or compassion, and largely guides our personal and professional life. We make decisions to where to work, who to love, where to live, or what to fight for based on an emotional response in the heart. The heart is honestly the easiest part to be distracted. (Note: People who are able to make “unemotional” decisions have made in fact an emotional decision to trust the mind more than the heart – no one is truly free from emotion)

Your mind is your body’s calculator. It’s computing, configuring, deciding and making decisions based on reason. Can you really accomplish x, y, and z with the tools that you have in your tool box? Your eyes receive images, messages, and your mind processes them to formulate the best decision. It is really important that you do not perceive things wrong, place things in your mind incorrectly, because that is how the mind makes the wrong decision and gets you off focus. My mother is always telling me and my brother to be mindful of how we remember experiences, because your mind takes notes and makes decisions based on what you input into it. This where being honest with yourself is important.

You soul is your moral barometer. It determines what is right and wrong, it is our moral center, the spiritual nature of who we are. It walks in the shadow of the heart and mind, who have a strong pull on how we operate, but it honestly, is the most important, because it is what keeps the heart and mind on track. If it something conflicts with your soul, you should walk away immediately, stop focusing on it. You have to train the heart and mind soul to trust the soul. The day I learned how importance my soul was to who I was, the day I release some useless stuff out of my life.

So let’s get out of the air, and talk about how you can set your heart, mind and soul to focus. I think these steps could be helpful or something to consider to help focus you.

  1. For Your Heart

    1. Figure out what is important, and everything else doesn’t matter. Sound simple? You really have to make a list though. Prioritize your passions. Often, we can have multiple passions, but if you place them in an order of importance you realize, that you have to let go of passion 6 – 100, because 1 -5 will never happen if you don’t. No, like seriously. Superman and superwoman aren’t real, and even if they were, they aren’t YOU. So yes, write down a list or take 30 minutes to think about what’s important to your heart, and work on those things.
  2. For Your Mind –

    1. Identify your weaknesses and your strengths. Then look at your list, see where you are lying to yourself, yes, be truthful about what you’re awesome in and where you really aren’t. Also, don’t be insecure, and keep hidden where you excel. Why is this step so important, based on your list of strengths and weaknesses, it may determine if they are in line with what your heart. Might have to do a little negotiation. You will probably find, that there are passions that you don’t have skills to accomplish or they are based on envy not substance.
  3. For Your Soul –

    1. Set your standards in life AND stick to them. The more you are consistent with your moral compass, the better your heart and mind will believe you and listen. So literally, jot down a list of your standards, and strive to achieve them. Sometimes your soul isn’t in every decision that you make, but the soul is always involved when making the wrong decision. The more areas of your life where you identify your standards, the more success you will have. One place to start, is what you aren’t willing to accept from others. Protect your heart and mind.

Now, go forth  and prosper FOCUS and make life simple.

M/P

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

Since the Day I Was Born ….

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For me, the hardest part of watching the movie Selma was the first five minutes. It is the scene when the young girls, doing what young girls do in church, were blown up. I have thought of this scene multiple times prior to seeing the movie and just the thought of this scene was chilling, but Ava DuVernay captured it even more poignantly in the movie. So as I woke up this morning, June 18, to hear that 9 black people were shot in a historic church in South Carolina, I couldn’t even imagine what was going on in their minds and hearts as it was happening. As a child who grew up in the church, the thought of some one coming into our sabbath school, choir practice, youth service or a sermon brought me to real tears for so many reasons. Cried for their kids, their families, but also that our people have to be killed in a church, for everyone to find outrage. To utter the words that this IS a hate crime unlike all the other incidents. Because when our people are in the streets, not wearing the right clothes or defending themselves (if only with our words), the life of a black person is not of the same worth. We have to be doing what society deems appropriate for there to be outrage.

THIS
IS
NOT
OKAY

See what’s so troubling about this shooting is that the black church is a center piece to black culture. Despite our difficult past, the church has been a place of refuge for us. It IS a place of refuge for us. Despite its faults, because no establishment is perfect, it represents so much for black people. This feels like the highest violation, because almost every black child can relate to some degree when it comes to matters of faith. So now, in 2015, we are still being terrorized in our places of worship like in the days of MLK. How are we supposed to attend our places of worship? Of course, this won’t keep us out of our churches, but it will make some look over their shoulders. And it shouldn’t be this way.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen our young sons and daughters killed, and protestors and activists lambasted for speaking out against the police. Here’s the truth, we are racially profiled, wrongfully jailed, unjustly sentenced, and leniency is rarely given, yet a privilege white boy can receive leniency for a disease called “affluenza”, because he was born in privilege so he couldn’t grasp his actions.

Am I missing something?

I’m not radical. I actually love the police and respect the 5 -0 , the men in Blue. But when I sit here and speak to older black people who are not seeing why we are upset. That in some way, they implicitly say that we are the problem, is when I realize I have to say something. To speak up.

TODAY, we have earned the right to be angry,  to be sad, but we must not sit. We want equality in every area. But there are certain things I want right now from three groups of people:

1. The Media and the People Who Watch It
2. “Educated” Black People
3. Everybody else

1. MEDIA

For the last week, I was saturated about the Rachel “whogivesashit” Dolezeal story. Wake up media and get some respect about yourself. How can this nation grow, the people learn and understand,  if the information you give us is horrible. You ARE dumbing down America.

The People Who Watch It

STOP WATCHING IT …

Until its worthy of our attention

2. EDUCATED BLACK PEOPLE

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of my peers talk about how they are numb. STOP. You’re still living, breathing and have a sound mind. Do something. I’m not asking you to move mountains. But all of us need to have a hand in making a difference in our communities. It’s about each of us contributing in some capacity. You don’t need to live in Baltimore, NYC or Cleveland, but help where you are. You can protest, but there are other ways too. Use your unique gifts and talents. More importantly, as I’ve said so many times, have real conversations with your White friends, your Hispanic friends, your Asian friends, your Jewish friends. We need allies. Don’t have any of “those” friends? Well, we can not sit in our little educated black circles and expect people to understand or care if we’re not out here shouting from the mountaintop.

3. EVERYBODY ELSE

Wake the HECK up to the world we actually live in and not the world you think we do. Get out your shell or your/our world will fall apart, and it won’t be the underprivileged, the mistreated, and upset young people’s fault, it will be yours.

Since the day I was born, I have loved America and I have been a Black American. Since the day I was born, I believed I lived in a post-racial America. That is not true. I have been proud to be an American, I just hope those days are not numbered, because we are blind to reality. I now know,  since the day I was born, there is still a lot of work to be done about race. I have taken off my rose colored glasses, won’t you?

M/P

Your Personal Brand Matters…. But Do You Believe You? (The Monday Fits)

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“Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value”. The quote is often attributed to Albert Einstein. Either way, it is one of my favorite quotes for multiple reasons. This particular quote has resonated with me since I was in high school when my mother was trying to instill in me the importance of a moral code and inner ethics before anything else. As we get older, balancing what’s right or wrong versus our self-interest can be a difficult task.  Not that you can remember exactly how it felt, but as a child there was so much more clarity in deciding what was right and wrong. The line was bright, loud and clear. Then as you begin to lose your innocence, some people younger than others, it’s as if that line begins to fade almost to black if you let it. The need to continually pursue the right thing is a challenge for all of us (or shall I say most of us).

The more I have become immersed into social media, business marketing, and personal promotion, there is something that is talked about over and over, and it’s called branding. Now you have business branding and marketing and the wave of personal branding continues to be more important now than ever.  But it feels as if you can have branding for just about anything that needs an image or has  a message to give to the world. Today, media has a huge impact on a brand. Our personal brand matters more than ever before and LinkedIn has made branding yourself an important component for even getting a job.

As with anything, when something is important for people there are more than a baGILLLION how-to books, [whatever topic] 101 articles and 50 ways to improve X. There is no shortage of information about how to effectively brand. And here’s why, “The average western consumer is exposed to some 3,000 brand messages a day.” (source)

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That’s right, 3,000. So how did we get here? Let’s take a look how branding became popular. “Personal branding, self-positioning and all individual branding by whatever name, was first introduced in 1937 in the book “Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill”(source). But it wasn’t until the 1980’s the idea resurfaced, and Tom Peters popularized the term “brand” with a 1997 article. (source)  But when thinking of branding, to get a better picture of branding, we have to look at business branding, which made brand management, messaging and public perception what it is today.

“In the 1950s, consumer packaged goods companies like Procter and Gamble, General Foods and Unilever developed the discipline of brand management….[they] required an understanding of the target consumer and what we call a “branded proposition” that offered not only functional but also emotional value.”  This emotional value is the component that would allow companies to charge more for its products. “This marked the start of almost 50 years of marketing where “winning” was determined by understanding the consumer better than your competitors and the getting the total “brand mix” right. The brand mix is more than the logo, or the price of a product. It’s also the packaging, the promotions, and the advertising, all of which is guided by precisely worded positioning statements”. (source)

And as the world becomes more global,  digital brands, in my opinion, try to be more more personal and “humanistic”. More and more CEOs, VPs, and successful businesspersons are available and visible. Figuring out who your ideal employees and consumers is easier, and therefore, the  need for your personal brand has gradually become important. So Wikipedia defines personal branding, as the “practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.” (source)
Now I am not here to add to the plethora of branding information out there, and by no means am I branding professional. But I am a natural (extreme) extrovert and one of those weirdos that genuinely enjoys networking unlike the average person. For a long time, I thought the idea of personal branding was just silly. In the sense, why do people need to “buy” into me based on the way I package myself and create some emotional response to who I am. See, if you are around a lot of people, you naturally are able to feel or sense one’s emotional response. I have come to recognize that this is not the case online, and there is a shift in digital world that we live in. It is important to brand yourself. There are so many messages and it is easier to mistake your message online than in an one on one interaction.

When I network, and if you do it enough, you can get a sense of what people are feeling, what they like or dislike based on body language, facial expressions, etc. You sometimes cannot gauge how a consumer or person will react digitally, but you have to put your best foot forward. On the flip side, because we consume so much digitally, it is important now than ever, that our in-person interactions are genuine, because we have less of them, and your first impression may be the only one. So yeah, I kind of have bought into this idea that branding can be important.

I am not exactly sure why I decide to write about this topic, but there is one idea that I want you to take away from all of this. The most important branding that one can do is the brand you are to yourself. You can try to fool others to think what they will about you. You must first have the message right within before you can communicate a message to your friends, your family, let alone a business or professionally. Figuring out what you stand for, and believing it. It’s the idea, if you are not  willing to drink your own kool-aid, then why would anyone else. How do you do this? Self-reflection. What are you reflecting in the pool? Now this is not a discussion on HOW you should be, if being evil is your thing and that’s your prerogative, then own that story you are telling, before you invest in convincing someone else. You must be of one mind.

The best business brands usually believe in the brands that they are selling. Although money and success can be great motivators for making a brand successful, the best brands believe in themselves, and also hire people who also believe in them as well. One thing customers hate more than being bombarded by all of these numerous messages, is being lied to. At the end of the day, your brand is a promotion of you. If you are promoting XYZ, and you’re ABC, then it doesn’t matter if you hire the best branding professional, your true self will always comes through. There is no way of hiding it, and you shouldn’t want to. This is not just about believing in yourself, it’s about believing in what your selling. Sell to yourself first, if you’re not buying, then no one else will. REFLECT.

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls… Well, Maybe Just a Little Bit (The Monday Fits)

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What is a waterfall? It is a beautiful flow of water over a cliff, and generally, waterfalls are located in the most beautiful parts of the world. But anyone familiar with popular culture may also think of waterfalls as referred by the 1995 single by the R&B trio, TLC.

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to your rivers and your lakes that you’re used to, I know that you’re going to have it your way or nothing at all, but I think you’re moving to fast”(Click for Video)

So in popular culture, waterfalls have come to describe a crazy, tumultuous dream, goal, lifestyle or ambition that is out of reach, and as you move towards it, you can place yourself in more danger, because you can’t handle it. It is too strong.  Now, in most instances, we should avoid waterfalls. The obstacles that they bring us are too strong, the pain they cause can be too great. But I always wondered how can you truly tell if you’re going down a river that leads to a waterfall; if the decisions that you make are good or bad? You just can’t.

So you’re GOING to go down waterfalls in life, that is inevitable, why not chase one?  Yes, I’m saying we should chase waterfalls. And will chasing waterfalls produce a positive result. Maybe. Maybe Not.  But the process of chasing what you don’t  know may have a positive result for you. This idea of chasing waterfalls really vibes with my methodology towards life, and I promise that I am not exactly a risky type of person, but there’s a reason to this madness in my mind.

People talk a lot about career advancement with millennials. We are young, and still have plenty of time to change, alter, and improve the direction in which we want to go. If we’re unhappy, they tell us to change it. And we love to hear from people who have found a job that they love, or have turned their passion into a career and become the coveted entrepreneur. I would argue that the latter is mostly supported, even if people don’t like or understand the idea, most people like the idea of starting something new and innovative. But for the former, if you’re unhappy, change it, my experience has not quite been that way in my career.

Academically and professionally, I have had some really amazing experiences. They haven’t always felt the best at the time being, but through all my experiences I have always learned a great deal for the next step in life. But even more so, I have a certain standard for what environment I want to work and thrive in. Recently, I was in a situation where I was unhappy, rarely did I feel supported in my frustrations from other co-workers who were in the exact same situation. We all were upset, but rarely was anyone willing to do anything about the situation. And as the only millennial (unfortunately) in the whole department, my constant approach to identify and change the situation was seen as a sign of immaturity.  Often times, people would “understand” my frustrations, but rarely were any of my suggestions good ideas or pursuing the path for change  seen as necessary.

“Oh, it  is not that bad”, “There are worse work situations out there” (which was true), “You’re young, you have to be patient”

That’s right, just wait your turn. The idea that I should wait. That things will change eventually. Wrong. Wrong. And more wrong. Unless, I am waiting for my Heavenly Father to lead the way, the idea of waiting on someone else or something to get better, isn’t for me. But I will say that every step I took to change my situation, or pursue a different recourse, I often felt like I was going down a river toward a waterfall. There were difficult days , because trying to change things while being very upset is a bad combination. There were uneasy times, and job safety is always in the back of your head when you’re challenging the status quo. But change wasn’t coming to that position, that department, so I started fighting differently. I started pursuing new positions that everyone told me I wouldn’t get (people love to tell you what you can’t do). But I knew this was the right fight.

I was able to get a new job, and not just any new job, but a better job, a job that many were surprised that I got, because it was a significant promotion for a person who had only worked with the organization for a year. But I wasn’t surprised, not because I’m amazing, but sometimes you have to step out, especially professionally, when everyone is telling you no.

Why do I tell this story? Because when I was feeling like I was on a fast track to a waterfall (because I was so close to blowing that place up). It was very lonely. I had family and friends who were trying to be supportive, but they were not here and couldn’t really know the exact situation. At times, the people who were in it, didn’t have the same need or desire to fight, but I did. I only felt supported when the fighting was over, and sometimes it feels that way, but heading towards what could’ve been waterfall was definitely worth it. You can’t focus on the end, you have to be able to muddle through the water. My river didn’t lead to a waterfall but it could’ve, but it was worth the ride. So you have to fight for what you believe (even if you’re wrong at times) is my philosophy.

Here’s two examples in popular culture,were taking a bet, one with public support and the other with a public lashing: At the Oscars, last night, Patricia Arquette lit it up, and social media by simply telling women, that we have fought for equal rights for others, but the time is now, for us to fight for equal pay for women. Those words couldn’t have been said on a better stage, with the best part followed by Meryl Streep overly animated concurrence. Positive Words. Great Stage. Almost Full Acceptance. (I’m sure there is someone out there disagreeing somewhere)

Conversely, look at the past week for former Mayor Giuliani is having. At a fundraiser for the presidential hopeful Gov. Scott Walker, Giuliani took the spotlight off of Walker, and put the bullseye over his entire body. Mayor Giuliani bluntly said that President Obama does not love America. Yep, that’s right. Just that plainly. In his Wall Street Journal op-ed that followed this past Sunday, he said he wasn’t questioning the President’s heart or mind, but that the President actually has criticized this country more than any other President in history. Now a lot of people didn’t like what he had to say, including a lot of the other Republican presidential hopefuls, and they tried to distance themselves as fast as lightning. Did I mention Giuliani wasn’t invited, and he sure as heck wasn’t supposed to speak.

Negative Words. Wrong Stage. Much less acceptance of his words. (Because you know Rush Limbaugh praised every single word).

My question should either of their voices be stopped. In my mind, they both could be going down a path to a waterfall. Patricia Arquette took a stand, that could’ve been rejected, and so did Rudy Giuliani. Just because Patricia had a 90% chance of acceptance, and Giuliani had a 30% chance, do we only take the safe bets?

I challenge us all, especially millennials, to not always taking the safe bets, chase the waterfall. The waterfall isn’t always a new thing, business, or something uber aggressive. It can just be a new project, requesting more responsibility, or asking for a mentor who is going to challenge you and not just puff up your ego. So go chase a waterfall, just a little bit, because standing in the lake will get you nowhere.

Living For A Legacy: From Stuart to MLK/LBJ

“Choices we make about the lives we live, determine the kinds of legacy that we live” – Tavis Smiley

On January 4, 2015, Stuart Scott, the infamous “hip-hop” sportscaster who changed the game for sports casting with his distinct style on ESPN’s SportsCenter, passed away at 49 years old. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 that eventually would go into remission, but his cancer would roar back twice ultimately claiming his life despite a powerful fight he showed to the world. So before my current favorite duo, Neil and Stan, there was Rich and Stuart, and there was nothing like it. For those unfamiliar, real sports fans would watch SportsCenter regardless of who was hosting, but you REALLY watched SportsCenter when Stuart and Rich was on, it was entertaining, informative, and just down right funny. Looking at the response to Stuart Scott’s life, made me think how we view legacy in our society and what role it plays. Especially, how we analyze celebrities/famous people whether it is in sports, politics, music, and anyone else in the public eye. Every one leaves a legacy, regardless of their popularity or fame. Yet, it often appears that people in the limelight are placed with a heavier burden in terms of the legacy that they leave, but that is not entirely the case. Should we not all be concerned about the life we lead, and the fruit we produce from our labor?

When I look at Stuart Scott, there is no doubt that he left a positive legacy, but if you looked at him, or as I remember him watching him as a sport caster, he was going to leave a legacy regardless; it’s just that life’s circumstances, his diagnosis, his fight, allowed him to leave a different type of legacy. We are faced with choices every day, and the selections we make will have a direct impact on our lives and determine our legacy. So at times, it may appear we are on track to leave a legacy of a certain stature, but subsequent choices either amplify or tarnish that legacy. I can’t help but think of Michael Jackson, who, to this day, is my favorite artist of all time, but I find it very hard to listen to his music as I once did religiously, not because his music isn’t masterful or his dancing wasn’t perfectly choreographed; for now, something just feels a little funny when I hear his voice. Do I like think MJ’s legacy is tainted, to me, of course not, but in reality, how could it not be.

As I’ve grown older, I have gotten out of the habit of idolizing stars or adoring political heroes. Maybe because I have had the opportunity to meet more people with power, fame or prestige; you realize that they really are just like the rest of us, and how we view their legacy is just as important as I view my brother, my cousin, or my own legacy. We all have to go down this journey of life, and what you put into it, will produce a certain result…well, unless you happen to fall into a history book, movie reel, tv mini-series, or heck, on the history channel.

What on earth do I mean? The recent controversy over the depiction LBJ and Martin Luther King, Jr. interaction in the movie, Selma, highlights how much we really care about the legacy that will remain in history even if it is not exactly accurate. It is not a matter of whether Selma sensationalize certain parts of the movie for entertainment purposes, because there are plenty of movies with a bona fide WRITTEN MANUSCRIPT. i.e. any movie from the bible, they twll whatever story want. It’s the argument about which side of history is correct.

So here’s the jist of the controversy. There are LBJ historians and aides that came out the wood work criticizing the film for falsely portraying President Lyndon B. Johnson as resistant to the idea of voting rights and even suggested the march in Selma was “his” idea.  The Director of Selma called the claim, “jaw dropping and offensive”. Now, I am a lover of history, and find both of the approaches to the legacy of this incident incorrect. Luckily, I did not have to defend this position on my intuition (clearly, I was not there), but Andrew Young, an aide to MLK, Jr., said that both depictions don’t quite have it right. “We could not have had this bill without LBJ, but LBJ could not have passed it without Martin Luther King”, and more poignantly, Young said, “It is unfair for anybody to talk about credit.  Too many people gave their lives. Too many people risked too much”. (source). These comments  by Mr. Young words are powerful words for a man who is as much of a part of the legacy of MLK, Jr. Wouldn’t you imagine that is what MLK, Jr. would’ve said? It’s about all the people who gave for the movement, not battling between two actors. We know that LBJ had some part in passing the Civil Rights Act, but let’s not give him too much credit, because the fight was going on for many years. Nor would MLK, as I would imagine, want to wrongly characterize the man who ultimately assisted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  Why can’t we give credit, where credit is due?

A theme I write about often, is that at times, it feels we want to be at odds at each other; Republicans and Democrats, Muslims, and Christians, and so forth. But in a movie that is about overcoming difficult obstacles and to bring about equality, why can’t we get the story straight? Or agree upon simple truths, is being right more important than the truth? What will our children think of the society that we are building  based of disagreement and separation? We need to be trying to leave a legacy of togetherness, finding the commonalities that bridge gaps and make changes in our society. If we can’t even tell the story of MLK, Jr. and LBJ right, what hope do we really have?

One might wonder how  all of these thoughts came together. Although, I know the controversy is probably good for the movie ratings, it’s counter to the legacy of MLK, Jr. and LBJ, and I couldn’t help but pay a little respect to my man Stuart Scott who left a powerful legacy about how we should live. If we look  at what Stuart said in acceptance speech for the Jimmy V award, about beating cancer, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live”. We my friends need to apply that to the life that we live, and the legacy that we leave.

RIP Stu.

M/P

The Monday Fits: First World Faux Pas All Around

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As the year closes, there a number of different topics that I find bubbling up in my mind. But what I find that happens all too often, are the issues that are most important, where the passion overflows are closer to “first-world problems” than pressing matters. You know the problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders roll their eyes. These really trivial problems are often seen on Facebook or Twitter, and can be viewed on this website  Here, and the posts kind of look like this,  “I have too much cash in my wallet and it hurts my butt when I sit. #FML #FWP”.

So what topics am I talking about? For one, feminism infiltrates my mind on an everyday basis ( and I write about it too) as I am slowly trying to find a way to conquer the world. More specifically, as a 28 year old, with many friends getting married, having babies, and a divorce here and there, it is difficult not to talk about the social constructs that try to govern my life, and every other female’s every move.  These social constructs cause a room full of professional women in their late 20’s and early 30’s to have intense conversations about marriage, to have or not to have kids, and how it affects our work/home lives. At times, depending on your profession and your regional location, there are certain expectations placed on you either explicitly or implicitly. I find it frustrating as I maneuver through my professional career, and want to decipher and analyze…and there is a but…

When I sit down to write about this, i feel conflicted, as there are so many problems elsewhere, such as #blacklivesmatter, airplanes disappearing, Boko Haram, and Ebola is not quite gone yet, and not to mention there are people fighting for their basic freedoms (click here). Not to mention I had a recent conversation about how Americans’ views on feminism can also be considered a first-world problem.

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Yep, that’s what was said. But as the conversation continued, I slightly understood the point; reaching perfect equality between the sexes is the goal but perfection is unobtainable. Therefore, if we never made another advancement for ourselves, and women were only capable of reaching the heights that have currently been made, there are some pretty awesome people running companies, industries and governments and compared to many other countries that would love to have some our successes and freedoms. However, it is not enough for us (i.e. maternity leave – click here), and it shouldn’t be, but we can’t become too consumed with these type of problems that we don’t take the time out to look at other problems surrounding us. That is why the critique of the people involved in the protests surrounding the #blacklivesmatter still bothers me to this day.  People complain that millennials are not involved and when they are, they criticize their actions. (Of course, there are always bad apples in a bag). If we, Millennials, have the capacity to have an opinion and to take a position, we should stand for what want… but there are so many critics ABOUT everything from every side, criticism is the true cash cow in the country these days.

Let’s review a couple of stories from this week, where a number of people were in arms about something: “‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts Banned From High School Basketball Tournament” (source) , “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Stands His Ground After Offending Christians On Twitter” (source), and “Hundreds Turn Their Back on de Blasio at NYPD Officer’s Funeral” (source) . Now I am sure, at least ONE of those stories offended almost every one of my readers, but honestly, I am offended that in each situation there was so much push back. In each situation, there is a group of people who feels disrespected, and I completely understand that, but what happened to the first amendment. No seriously, what happened to the First Amendment? I get that critics have the right to speak back, as much as the people who take the original actions, but at times its as if the reaction gets more play than the original action.

In the story of the high schoolers, a girls and boys basketball team wanted to wear the “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, and were not allowed to participate in a tournament unless they agreed to not wear the shirts. All the boy players agreed to not wear the shirts, except one who stood his ground, and the girls squad were not able to field a team, because most of them refused to be told not to wear the shirt! This is exactly what we should be fostering, is young people speaking out. The fact they wanted to shut out these kids voices is a problem. It may be a first-world problem, but the struggles within their communities are definitely not first-world problems, racial inequality should be less amongst an educated nation. But the reality, America with all of it’s first world problems, really does have a few third-world problems in certain areas that need to not go unnoticed: gun violence, wealth inequality… and of course, criminal justice.

“We all know the U.S. criminal justice system is flawed, but few are likely aware of just how bad it is compared to the rest of the world. The International Center for Prison Studies estimates that America imprisons 716 people per 100,000 citizens (of any age). That’s significantly worse than Russia (484 prisoners per 100,000 citizens), China (121) and Iran (284). The only country that incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than we do is North Korea. The U.S. is also the only developed country that executes prisoners – and our death penalty has a serious race problem: 42 percent of those on death row are black, compared to less than 15 percent of the overall population.” (source) 

We definitely have a lot of first world problems that seem trivial, and unimportant in the scheme of things, but we have some major problems that are pretty Third-World in THIS country, let’s not shut out our millennial voices, OR for the simple fact our right to free speech and expression shouldn’t be a problem.

 

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#FivedaysinDecember #JoinMe

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JOIN ME…..my last five blogging days of the year are going to be part of a series called “Five Days in December”.  I started my blog  this year, to share my voice, and make an impact, and not stand on the sidelines while my thoughts remained tucked away in my brain.  I took a small hiatus, to sit back, watch, listen, learn, and NOW I have plenty to say. Plan, Prepare, Execute! How about you?…What are you doing in your community? How are you advancing your career? establishing meaningful relationships? In what area, could you be doing more? Take a little time out of your day, for 5 days in December, and figure out what you are going to do next year! It only takes ONE!

The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.
Tony Robbins 

M/P