Are We There Yet?

Don't Be Silent in the Face of InjusticeIn these remaining few more days of Black History Month and beyond, let us not forget the message of unity, love, and justice of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King. Dr. King was a servant leader, fully aware of the injustices, and yet was able to work towards justice in a spirit of love. He was truly a voice of conscience that rings beyond the grave. By his example I learned that while I must be aware of the goings on in the world, at the same time not let it steal the joy in the moment. Ignorance is not bliss and neither is anger or hate. We must be aware; be sensitive; speak out against injustice; be loving even to our enemies, be encouraging to those who are grieving or being persecuted, and most importantly, we must DO what WE can to change the world.

This week a Facebook post really got to me.  It was of a young African-American being harassed, beaten, restrained, and kicked.  He kept screaming, “Why are yall doing this to me?” He was being treated like an animal. Evidently he’d stepped off a bus and was immediately accosted by two police.  I was so visibly moved that I wrote the following FB post.

This made me cry for two reasons!!!! 1) Because this is still happening. 2) Because it’s a reminder of when one on my son’s on his Spring break from college had something similarly humiliating done to him! Handcuffed, made to get on the ground, cops being verbally abusive, and yes he was scared to death. Yes! And he was innocent, and NO he didn’t have his pants hanging, and NO he didn’t have on a hoodie, and NO, he doesn’t drink or smoke AND IT DIDNT MATTER! It’s hard for wounds to heal when the scab keeps getting ripped off! The only difference is he kept quiet. BUT, some caged birds have to scream though!!! If you scream though, it makes things worse, as you see in the video links below.

Why was this man being harassed for just stepping off of  a bus? Thankfully someone recorded it. Two other police come to the scene and one ends up putting his foot on the guys face while he’s on the ground and is kicking him in the face. And it appears like one is almost sitting on the guy’s head. The poor young man is screaming, “Why are you doing this to me?,” but to no avail. Bystanders are watching and walking by, but feel helpless to help.  This is the police; what can they do? Are we there yet? Watch the Video and You decide!!!!!! The language is foul, but so is the indignity put upon this young man.  Then I learn that this is routine for NYC if you are Black or Latino. They missed one young man who videoed it, but not this one, eight cops just arrest him for videoing the atrocityy.  Are we in a police state? Where are our freedoms?  What about due process, human rights, and human respect?

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.”

“We will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It looked like something out of Dr. King’s era. I can only wonder if we are breeding an endless cycle of hatred. What came first the chicken or egg? I’m thinking about those kids being harassed day after day and wondering if they are going to grow up loving or hating whites. In some places those chickens will one day come home to roost if they ever get in a position to return the hate that has built up in them from so many years of being powerless. In other cases led by the example of numerous people of every color disgusted by the old guard and preaching and demonstrating love and peace, (like many Bahai’s and others I know), the system will slowly but surely be changed for the better. We are one human race and there is just one planet and one people. I have to keep in mind always that while there are many horrific examples of humans at their worst, but I’m happy to say, I do see so many examples of humans at their best too!  Thank you Dr. King for showing us how to love our enemies, to stand up for justice, and to not remain silent, yet we be guilty too.

Another message that matters from Barbara Talley

“Ouch” – BLACK ENOUGH? Remark About RGIII Hits the RACE Nerve.

one planetSo, just what does it mean to not be “black enough?”  While it was the most recent controversy between two high profile black men in sports that brings this question to the forefront, the questions of race and identity and what it means to be black have never been sufficiently addressed.  First of all, I’m not into sports, so the fact that RGIII is a celebrity, makes little difference to me. But the race and identity discussion does catch my attention, since I am African-American, I work in Diversity, and this question unfortunately hits too close to home.  As a mother, I’ve been dealing with this issue on behalf of my children for decades unabated. My fifteen year old daughter was outraged just a few months ago when she experienced this in her “magnet school” that lacks much diversity. A kid at her school told her she wasn’t black like the kids at a different school.  I too faced this same challenge as a child when my father took us from the north to the south while doing migrant work.  My sisters and I were often mocked and ridiculed by the other kids who said, “We talked proper.”  It didn’t stop there, many times in my career have I heard the ignorant comment, “You’re different!” What’s that supposed to mean? Although it was usually meant as a compliment, it left me with the same distaste as it did as a child.  I interpreted that comment as:”I’ve got this definition of what it is to be black, and you don’t fit it!”  Rather than the person admitting that perhaps their definition of blackness was flawed, instead I was the anomaly.  “I was different!”  So I got it from both sides, both black and white.

Who gets to define what “black enough” is: black people, white people or no one?  Before I go on, let me point out one thing.  Color is just an accident of climate.  People who live closer to the equator have become darker over the centuries than those who live in more cooler climates. Race does not define a person’s values, character, or identity.  There are those with good character and values and those without it in every ethnic group.  And finally, we are all members of one human race. There is no black race, white race, or brown race.  We are all humans and part of one race, one human family.  You are more apt to pick up traits from your environment and culture than from people who have the same “color”  as you. We all have different traits, yet we are predominantly the same:  “There are more than three million differences between your genome and anyone else’s. On the other hand, we are all 99.9 percent the same, DNA-wise.” 99.9% says it all. Race and color are cloaks for other things, racism, imperialism, and a convenient way to separate people to justify preferential treatment for some and disparate treatment for others.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

Don’t Just Sit There!

Zig Ziglar wrote: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!” 

track- get movingIf we’re not moving, we need to figure out why! I’ve realized that I can’t do my best if I was not at my best.  No matter how talented you are, you too can’t do your best if you are not at your best!  Things can’t be alright if you are not right. We can’t give or attract what we don’t have.  Fortunately, we are resilient beings.  Through prayer, meditation, reflection, fasting, and journaling, I’ve learned to work my way back to “my normal.”  My goal is not to be like anyone else, but to be the best me.   I am now more confident than ever that we can have anything we want in this life, if we want the right things, are willing to do what’s right to get them, and have the will to work for whatever we want right now.  We also need to have the right people in our lives.

Doing the Right Things

What do you want out of this life?  Are your goals lofty or lowly, prideful or purposeful, serving others or self-serving, mediocre or meaningful?  Working harder won’t get you closer to your bliss, if you are not on the right path. The goal is not necessarily the gold, but to have golden relationships, golden memories, and a life full of golden and meaningful service and accomplishments.  I truly want to make a difference, but I also have financial needs.  My challenge was (and still is) to find the right balance.  I can’t tell you how many times people contact me wanting me to speak for free, even though this is how I earn a living.  No one would ask a doctor, lawyer, restaurant owner, or even a public servant to work for free.  I learned that although my heart was willing to give it away, I had to set boundaries.  I also had to really plan my time well.  I had to ask myself regularly, “Am I doing the right things that will move me closer to reaching my goals?  Am I being truly productive or merely confusing activity with accomplishment?” Once I set the right balance and the right boundaries, it gave me time to focus on the right things.

Doing What’s Right

Fortunately, my moral compass has been set on the right course for quite some time.  I attribute this to a regular spiritual routine of prayer, reflection, and meditation and a genuine desire to “do what is right.”  This was probably the most perplexing to me during my dark moments because I truly felt I was doing the right things, so why were things not turning out right for me?  I realized that just because they weren’t turning out the way I’d planned, didn’t mean that they hadn’t turned out right way or the way there were supposed to in the grand scheme of things.  If I was praying for guidance and being guided, perhaps the challenges were a way teaching me a lesson I needed to learn, making me stronger, or just simply redirecting my course.  I had to have faith and just let go.  So, if you are facing challenges, ask yourself first, “Am I doing what is right?”   And if you can honestly say that you are living a life of integrity, making moral choices, and honest in your interactions with others, just stay the course.  If, however, you have gotten off your moral track, then simply, get back on.

Doing What We Must Right Now

The third challenge is to make sure that we are doing something now and not procrastinating.  Remember, “A body in motion stays in motion.” Sometimes we know what we should be doing, but allow things of a lesser value to take precedence.  If we want to live on purpose, we must get our priorities straight.  To do this, we must set value-based goals, have a plan, and then work that plan.  This requires saying ‘no’ to people, things, and opportunities so that we can stay on track.  We can’t be everything to everybody and still do the work that we were uniquely put on this earth to do.   And in the end, we will be responsible for getting our work done; no excuses will be allowed.  Sometimes the window of opportunity is open for just a short time.  If we don’t act, we lose that opportunity and have to wait for it to open again if ever.  I have a strong belief that we make our own opportunities.  I personally don’t wait for them to happen; I meditate, come up with a plan, collaborate with others, and create my own opportunities.  As co-creators in creation, we have the power through our thoughts, deeds, and actions to manifest the kind of life we choose for ourselves.   Every thought has the potential to manifest as reality, but only if we do the right thing, the right way, and do it RIGHT NOW!

The Right People

“No man or woman is an island.”  We don’t stand alone; we are all connected.  That being said, we still must choose carefully the people in our lives.  Some people are there for a reason, others, a season, and a few are lifers.  We must accept this fact.  We sometimes outgrow our relationships.  Sometimes we need new fresh relationships to stimulate new growth, perspectives, and possibilities.  Sometimes the people in our lives that we care the most about cause us the most anxiety and grief.   I had to let go of a long time relationship with a friend who hurt me very badly during a time that I was most vulnerable.  It hurt me a lot because I was not prepared for it and it caught me off guard.  I’ve been taught to, “Make new friends, but keep the old because one is silver and the other is gold.”  Well, I’ve learned that silver can tarnish and gold can rust.  Relationships have to be two-way, giving and taking.  I’ll leave it at that.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out: What Does Barbara Do? or visit  my website.

Allegations of Race over Record

“Collin Powell Endorses Obama,” the headlines read a few days ago.  The media pounced on it and many were shocked and very critical of Powell.  But why? Was it because this well-known Republican was endorsing a Democrat.  Unfortunately, “No!” The criticism wasn’t so much party switching as about race.  Then Lee Iacocca, a well-known Democrat Governor endorses the Republican candidate Romney.  But, the difference was, he was not accused of voting “race over record.”  Check out a few of these links

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/29/why-colin-powell-endorsed-president-obama.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/25/usa-campaign-powell-idUSL1E8LP31320121025

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/29/colin-powell-can-support-obama-because-he-s-black.html

http://www.humanevents.com/2012/10/19/lee-iacocca-endorses-romney-for-president/

http://patriotupdate.com/31253/lifetime-democrat-lee-iacocca-endorses-romney

Notice the absence of any allegations of race in the coverage of Iacocca!  I wanted to remain silent but just couldn’t. I  couldn’t remain silent after so many commentators were saying Colin Powell switched, “because he is BLACK!” and that his endorsement was “race over record.”  Another reason I bring this up is because a black friend who is a Romney supporter said adamantly to me just last week, “I’m NOT voting for Obama just because he is black!” His other reason was because the Democratic Party was originally the party of the KKK.  To me, that excuse is like not living in a town because certain individuals USED TO live there.

In several conversations, I’ve found that too many blacks feel that they have to justify voting for a man who happens to be black or for that matter, against a black man.  It doesn’t seem to matter if you bring up ten reasons for voting for your candidate of choice, still the belief is that you are not a conscientious voter familiar with the issues and that you’re only voting color.

Now I’m wondering, “Whites vote for white people all the time and it’s not assumed they are voting JUST because of color!

Collin Power and Lee Iacocca, one black, one white.  One was Democrat and the other Republican, different coverage!

I am an Independent and I vote my conscience and hope that everyone else does the same. I don’t like to talk politics because they are divisive. Now, even though I don’t get into partisan politics doesn’t mean that I don’t follow it to get facts so that I can vote responsibly. I’m praying you’ll do the same.

There is some good and some bad in everyone.  It seems though during elections, so many people are looking for the worst in their opponent and highlighting it. Also, many vote their party line even if they disagree with their stances on issues that affect their lives and principles. Voting is a basic human right, so vote your conscience too.  That’s why it was so refreshing today to hear a Republican not put down the opposite party and vote his conscience too, even if they happen to be the same color!

I’m Barbara Talley, The Poet who speaks and inspires.   To find more about me, check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

WARNING!!! For independent thinkers only. Do not read this if you have a closed mind, and you wish it to stay that way.

Change Is Gonna Come

Listening to National Public Radio while you’re driving can be hazardous.  Once again I almost drove off the road. The reporter was talking about a fourteen year old girl in Pakistan, hunted down and shot by the Pakistani Taliban for the offense of going to school. I was enraged. In spite of myself, all manner of hostile thoughts filled my mind. Since then, I’ve been following the story and the remarkable courage being shown by girls, women, and men in Pakistan.

Then the cartoons started popping up on my Facebook page. I began to feel uncomfortable with what I was seeing. What they all had in common was the juxtaposition of a girl in hijab with some school-related objects and a Middle Eastern/Muslim man (sometimes explicitly Taliban and sometimes not) reacting to her in fear. There was a time when I would have found these cartoons poignant and witty. That…

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