‘Banning the Box’ Helps Prisoners Become People [via The Root]

prisonbars400.jpg.CROP.rtstory-large“Have you ever been found guilty of a felony?”

For too many people, that question is the difference between living a life of dignity and living a life of shame and bitterness. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe made a bold move Friday and signed an executive order to “ban the box.” Through this statewide initiative, state agencies and public employers can no longer disqualify job seekers if they have a criminal record. This makes it easier for the formerly incarcerated to find employment and rebuild their lives. It also, most importantly, brings us, as a nation, one step closer to humanity. Continue reading

[SISTER TRUTH] Leap of Faith

It’s been a over year since I quit my full-time job.

Leap of FaithI hated where I worked. I had just graduated from college, was unemployed for 6 months, and had finally landed a decent paying job that allowed me to pay rent and bills and student loans. But I hated it.

I went home emotionally drained every evening. I woke wanting to cry or play sick every morning. And I went into the office with knots in my stomach from the dread and anxiety of working in a high pressure, mechanical work environment for 10 hours every weekday.

So, after a year of smiling on the outside while dying on the inside, I up and left–right on the verge of a promotion. Not only did I leave the job, I left my apartment, my friends, and my city, and moved back to my hometown to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Continue reading

[SISTER TRUTH] Be Not Afraid

Nobody can predict the future.

This time last year, I was living with my mom, bartending half the week and spending the other half in Barnes and Noble applying to news and magazine jobs and writing for my blog just trying to make a living.

This time last year, my car had broken down, I was barely making any money, I had no idea how I was ever going to get out of Hampton and start the career I wanted.black-woman-looking-up

This time last year, I could never have predicted everything that would happen in the next 365 days. I took some chances and opportunities and ended up in D.C., Las Vegas, New Orleans and now, New York City. I never knew whether each place would bring me to the people I wanted to meet or guarantee me the job I wanted but I took the chance. I stepped into the darkness and ended up in a better, brighter place. Continue reading

How Does One Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day?

martin-luther-lingHow exactly are you supposed to celebrate Martin Luther King Day?

Nine years ago, I went to a ratchet, all-night pajama party in a warehouse (For the record, I had a damn good time).

Two years ago, I sat at my desk at my sales job looking mean looking because I didn’t get to sleep in that day.

Last year, I went to the gym with my mom because we both had the day off, and why not?

This year, I did what everyone else seemed to be doing and went to see Selma.

Turns out, that was the right thing for me to do because I learned something. I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know about Dr. King or Bloody Sunday or the SCLC. I learned something new about myself. I learned that I want to leave a legacy of my own one day. Continue reading

This Week In Feminism

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope the men and women in your life are equally sharing the responsibility of cooking and cleaning on this tasty holiday. Once you’re done with that, enjoy this weeks round up of feminist news and culture.

U. VA Takes Back The Night
In a bold step to end rape culture on campus, the University of VA has suspended all fraternity and sorority life after a student wrote a graphic letter about how she was gang raped in a frat house that was published in Rolling Stone magazine. In the heart wrenching article, the student shares that she taken to a party as a freshman where she was lured into a room where no less than seven men took turns raping her over the course of three hours while her date stood by and encouraged them. If you’re not already disgusted, you should know that this is not a isolated incident. According to the Chicago Tribue, 1 in 5 women experience attempted or completed rape during their college career. Personally, I don’t think suspending Greek life at universities is going to solve the issue of power, ego, and drugs that lead to sexual assault. It’s a reminder that rape and violence have no easy fixes.

Lincoln University President Resigns
While we’re on the subject of university rape culture, it’s important that you know that President Robert Jennings resigned. You may remember President Jennings as the man who spoke at an all-women’s convocation on campus and implied that female students lie about being sexually assaulted “when things didn’t turn out the way they wanted.” Again, there a no easy fixes to rape culture, but telling women to feel guilty about reporting sexual assault and to think about they boys whose “lives get ruined” isn’t one of them.

Ms. Lauryn Hill

Ms. Lauryn Hill

Black Lives Matter
Unless you’ve been living under a rock called “Color blindness,” you know that on Monday it was announced that the Ferguson grand jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing unarmed Black teen, Michael Brown. Although this is not a strictly feminist issue, it is a human rights issue that affects us all, as people of color are disproportionately killed and arrested by law enforcement. And all of us are responsibly for fighting for the humanity and respect for all people. S/O to the celebs like Solange Knowles and Lauryn Hill who boldly spoke up and acted out in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.

Check out Lauryn Hill’s remix the holiday song “My Favorite Things” into a commentary of race relations in America and the resulting Black Rage.

I Got 99 Problems But My Body Ain’t One

It’s all about the booty, baby!

Over the weekend, Beyoncé showed off her usual flawless self in a new swimsuit boasting some modified lyrics from one of her hubby Jay Z’s famous songs:

“I Got 99 Problems But My Ass Ain’t One.”


“I Got 99 Problems But My Ass Ain’t One”

I agree with her. Her ass is certainly not a problem. And for that matter, neither is mine. Continue reading

Confessions of a Hater

I am surrounded by very talented, creative people: artists, musicians, singers rappers, writers, speakers, filmmakers, designers, future CEOs, you name it! And I get really excited to see them live out their dreams, make some money, and pursue their passions successfully.

But that was not always the case.

For a long time, I would feel extreme jealousy toward some of those same friends for finding success when I had found none. For creatives like myself, success often seems like a far away, unattainable treasure. And it’s kind of disheartening to see other people making their dreams come true when my own goals seem to be on hold. I watched my peers in both awe and anger. I wanted to be just like them and yet I thought so many bad thoughts about them. I wondered, “What are they doing that I’m doing wrong? Why are they successful, and I’m not? I’m just as good as they are, if not better. It should be me in the spotlight, not them.”

I guess that makes me a hater.

As much as we hate to admit it, we have all been haters at one point or another. This phenomenon we’ve dubbed “hating” happens we criticize or abuse someone based on minor observations or based on nothing at all. When we look at our peers and think to ourselves, “Why do they get a new car?”…“How could they afford that?”… “How did she end up with him?”… “How did he book that gig?”…”Why do people care about her?”, we are guilty of hating.

It’s really hard not to compare yourself to others in this social media age. Life is on high definition display 24-7 and we can see all the great things happening in someone else’s life while seeing nothing great happen in our own. Sometimes we’re upset because other people beat us to the punch, like our ideas have been stolen from us. Sometimes we feel thwarted or usurped, as if attention has been taken away from us. Sometimes we’re just frustrated that things seem to be coming easy to someone else while we struggle for recognition. It’s easy to get angry, even at people we’ve never even met!

Wisdom for Russell Simmons

Hating is toxic. It can eat away at your motivation and keep you stagnant. It can drive you to literal madness where you’re both angry and crazy. When I find myself feeling this way, I try to switch my negative thinking over to positive thoughts before my anger takes over and turns me into a lazy, self-pitying green-eyed monster.

Be Inspired, Not Envious.

They say it’s lonely at the top but, does it have to be? Who says there’s not room for everyone’s success? There is no rule that says only one person is allowed to be successful at any given time. So instead of watching others be great, go be great yourself! These days, I’m motivated by the success of other creatives. Seeing them gain recognition for their work let’s me know that it is indeed possible to reap rewards for my own creativity. Other hard working people aren’t your competition. They should be your inspiration.

Be Kind to Yourself

Don’t take it too personally when someone else is playing the hare in your tortoise race. It’s easy to get frustrated when someone seems to reach success without even trying but we can never know the difficulties that person may have faced to get where they are. Everyone’s journey is unique. We need to learn enjoy our own journey, no matter how slow it may seem. The hard times will just make your memoirs all the more entertaining. We must learn to love ourselves and be proud of ourselves, otherwise, we’ll feel like nobody. The world is filled with enough people who are going to make you feel bad about your life. You shouldn’t be one of them.

Support Others

Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help others (wisdom stolen from the Avatar The Last Airbender series. Yup, a kids’ show). I’ve realized the entire time I was hating on my friends, I should have been helping them rise higher. Those same people I was once so jealous of are now good friends and colleagues and have offered me some great advice and exposure. They’ve used their greatness to help me be great! We have so much to learn from each other. If I may quote from the iconic film High School Musical, “We’re all in this together”. We all have to co-exist in this life. We might as well help each other get through it.

Some people say when you got folks hating on you, that’s when you know you’re doing something right. I don’t know about all that but I do know that seeking universal popularity is a futile struggle. While we all need support, we don’t need approval. Don’t take it personally when people don’t appreciate your effort. I’ve learned that not everybody wishes me well and that’s okay because I wish myself all of the success in the world. Don’t fight with your haters. They may actually admire you. They just can’t handle your light.

So keep shining and let other people shine alongside you. One person’s success does not mean your failure. Nobody is perfect. We all have trials. And when we see someone overcome their trials, it should remind you that your dreams are attainable, too. Don’t let hate be the reason you give up on yourself. Stop hating. Keep going.