My Soapbox Diary Blog

  • Facebook
  • Instagram

Updated: Jul 19


I stepped onto the campus of Howard University sight unseen. My guidance counselor told me I was going to Howard. She believed in me and guided me in that decision. All I knew was they gave me a full academic scholarship and that was enough for me to make my plans to move to D.C.


Way back in that summer of 1987, I could not even have imagined how transformational it would be for me to attend an HBCU. For one, it was that history was all around us. As a freshman, I lived in Tubman Quadrangle, as a senior I lived in Bethune Hall. We knew that greatness was our legacy, from our esteemed alumni and faculty to current students using their gifts to impact the world.


I remember drinking in knowledge of African kingdoms that I had never heard of in my minor classes, and being blown away to learn about COINTELPRO in my political science class. Howard did more than teach me academics, it opened my mind and experience to knowledge and strengthened by critical thinking skills.


But Howard was also FUN. Being on the yard was an experience. Celebrating Homecoming was memorable. Working at The Hilltop was illuminating. Evangelizing with Campus Crusade was fulfilling. Laughing with friends that you would have for life was all of that.


We seem to have these ebbs and flows when it comes to HBCUs. With Kamala Harris as vice president, and truly all the craziness we experienced under 45, people are again in large numbers considering the HBCU experience.


Some people may question if HBCUs are still relevant, but I have to admit that the freedom I felt to strive for excellence and to be proud of my blackness, I have not experienced outside of that HBCU life. And lest some question why Black folks always seem to be creating their own thing, let's remember that the origins of that often lie in racism or underrepresentation. What we created out of necessity, now fuels our most excellent selves.


I am a proud alum. And I hope you will join the discussion for this week's episode of Soapbox Diaries with our guest Jared Bryson, founder of We Are HBCUs. You can find his website at www.wearehbcus.com.


Listen to Season 5, Episode 6 of Soaopbox Diaries, We Are HBCUs at https://bit.ly/JaredBryson_SoapboxDiariesS5E4

Updated: Mar 21

We kicked off Women's History Month last week with Natalie Jones. My conversation with her gave me the opportunity to think about my life and how I have settled into myself. There was a time when I had stepped away from my career to raise our four children. I loved being a wife and a mother, but hated being seen as one dimensional. When I would attend functions with my husband and people asked what I did, as soon as I say I was a stay-at-home mom, they would nod and smile and then move on as if that statement had rendered me invisible, as if I had no opinions, no passions, no gifts, no life apart from my role as wife and mother. There were even times that I seemed to lose m very identity when I ceased to have a name but was only Sebastian's wife of Jordan's mom.


When I turned 50, I celebrated that milestone. I had longed since settled that inner clash within myself. I knew who I was and wasn't afraid to show up as my complete self. I didn't have to elevate one over the other but could be all of those things proudly. They could coexist: wife, mother, author, podcast host, volunteer, friend. I had learned to be comfortable in my own skin, to speak up for myself and for those whose voices weren't heard.


It was a process to learn to embrace my whole self, to show up in spaces not quieting my Blackness, but boldly walking in the legacy of my ancestors. I could both see the structures erected to put me in a box, and likewise navigate the system to be exactly who I am.


Then this Sunday, the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry interview broke and I was again reminded of that journey to be the most authentic version of your self that you can, to draw strength from those who love you the fiercest, and to never apologize when who you are conflicts with another's artificial constructs of who you should be.


Monday was International Women's Day. What a great reminder of the women who have come before us constantly working to shatter the glass ceiling, make a seat at the table, and still embrace the rewards and struggles of marriage and motherhood. I draw strength from those women and hope to impact the women that come after me.


Tuesday's guest was Elsa Jones, the oldest daughter of Natalie. She said her mother would say, "There are some roads you don't have to go down, I've already traveled them for you." Wow! What a reminder. We stand on the shoulders of so many that have gone before us and for many of us those shoulders belong to our mothers and other women who poured into us, spoke life to us, counseled and chastised us. Women who loved us fiercely and also found a way, made a way to follow their own passions and live their own dreams.


This Women's History Month celebrate the amazing women in your life.

I watched the news about the storm that hit Texas and saw shelves upon shelves in store after store with no food. Those same Texas communities just months before showed car lines for hours at food banks waiting to get help because people lost their jobs during the pandemic and had no way to feed their families. It goes without saying that if middle class families are struggling, then families that were already struggling with poverty are worse off.


In the worst of times, it is the people who have the least to lose that lose the most. Those are who are working to catch up fall further and further behind.


I used to think that the system was broken, that it just needed to be fixed. But now, I understand that the system is working exactly that way it was intended. No matter how the economy performs in America, no matter how much the stock market expands, or how low the unemployment rate decreases, America always seems to have a permanent lower class.


We refuse to pay people a living wage and instead expect people to work themselves into an early grave at two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Never having enough to save or plan, but always just making it to the next paycheck. Then call them essential workers but pay them pauper's wages.


I shutter to think what awaits the folks in Texas, when the media has moved on to the next big news stories. What will happen to people now saddled with thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in utility bills. Stacked up on top of deferred rent payments that kept them from getting evicted, but will need to be paid back at some point. They will have to fight with insurance companies to try to get their homes repaired which were damaged through no fault of their own. While others will still die from COVID or won't have access to vaccines.


Something has gotta give. This can't be what it is like to live in America: where a child can freeze to death in his own bed, working people spend hours in line to get a box of food, a family four is expected to live on $30,000.


This can't be America. Right?