I am responsible for my actions
I am accountable for my words
Rarely, if ever, have I seen leadership, responsibility, accountability and skill from the men and women placed on pedestals and called leaders in American society.
Most often, these individuals are white and privileged. The ideology and standard thrusts upon us all stems mostly from the desires, likes and dislikes of a mostly white, mostly privileged cohort. Thus, American society and its obsession with whiteness readily agrees to promote such persons of similar characteristics and traits with only the barest minimum of scrutiny. To scrutinize our laws and adopted values would certainly lead to responsibility, accountability, and redress. So, this democratic and natural process of questioning, testing, reviewing data, drawing conclusions, and using the information to formulate the best way forward is passed from one mostly white and privileged cohort to the next. The cohort acts as it’s intended: quickly advancing to approval and confirmation stage with great latitude and almost no meaningful checks on their discretion. They confirm and repeat, confirm and repeat.
It is no accident that American leaders are mostly white, appear white (i.e. has a white complexion or skin tone), or – when a person of color is selected – has a white parent, spouse, adopted parent or other close personal connection to a white individual. These are the values on which America was built: only this cohort may grant and remove power, prestige, and inalienable rights.
Black American leadership and authority is so rare that there is no book, guide or example for those who rise to meet the challenge. The world has yet to see what Black American leadership absent white influence looks like because no Black American, in a quasi leadership or authority position, has yet to achieve the status inherited and passed on of non-black peers. The few multi-ethnic, multi-racial Black Americans who have been granted power, prestige, position and wealth, have been quick to concede territories and values which Black American descendants of slaves, and those who do not have white descendants would give our very lives for so that our children can finally thrive.
This realization is a painful reminder of all that Black Americans endure in a nation that claims to be a beacon of civil and human rights, and an inspiration to those who heed the call to undo, redress, and demolish the racist status quo which today ensures that Black Americans in America are separate and not equal.
This realization also presents a unique duty and responsibility for Black American leaders. We are the first. We must show the world what Black American leadership looks like. We are a defining generation, and we humbly accept this great responsibility, and execute our duties with diligence and care.
Earlier this month I shared a holiday greeting that contained a portrait of what it is like to live surrounded by un-neighborly non-black neighbors. The account included references to anti-Black conduct carried out by neighbors who are not Black, including that such behaviors were alleviated slightly only after a notice of impending litigation was sent naming individuals responsible.
The information shared was entirely true. However, those who entrusted me with such great responsibility gave me reason to re-think the impact my sharing could have on future generations of Black leadership. Together, we decided that we would fight hate and discrimination from non-black neighbors moving into territories where Black individuals long before resided. Therefore, with guidance, I decided it was not appropriate to share such details until further developments are made with the un-neighborly neighbors – for better or worse.
As a Black American female leader, and a Christian, I am duty bound to my moral, ethical, professional, and personal values. I am accountable for my words and actions, and I am also responsible for demonstrating to the world that Black American female leadership can lead successfully. Therefore, for the aforementioned reasons, we excised the depiction and characterization of the neighbors which appeared in the earlier posted holiday greeting.
A man with a gun who intended to rape me once told me to pick how I would be raped. I replied: over my dead body. This is the same fire I bring to every civil and human rights fight. It is in my blood, and from generations of fighting for civil and human rights, and against great oppression and evil; it cannot be summoned, inherited, copied, taught, or faked. I’ve inherited strength, courage, bravery, action, and great fortitude.
What will you pass on to your children?
Our offices and laptops remain closed for the holiday and end-of-year festivities. However, good works, cheer, and merriment burn bright year-round. Our thoughts are with you and your families during the holidays. And please spare a moment to think how you can inspire those around you to be the very best version of themselves.
I am here to wish you a happy holiday (mostly because the American Dream is no more, no less than a white male patriarch, living out delusions of superiority and grandeur upon lowly others – and that can be pretty depressing.)
This year has been full of surprises and doses of reality for us all. I do not want to get too involved in the details here, as there will be plenty of time for that later, and – after all – the purpose of this particular message is to set the tone for your very special holiday.
As a leader, advocate, and a Black woman, however, I cannot ignore that most of us have experienced significant challenges, in addition to the already overwhelming circumstances and pressures which we were already overburdened by. This awareness, as well as the great need for relief, creates a unique challenge of giving hope and faith to many where our surroundings betray and protest the words that I am committing to paper.
There is hope, justice, equity, peace, restoration, renewal, and recompense for you! Yes – you may have to wait a little while longer, and yes – I cannot give you an exact date or hour that you will be restored and renewed. However, I can tell you that the day is coming when you will have relief and justice.
For Black women, in particular, I am well acquainted with your suffering, perseverance, and tears. I know that my words are second best to a tangible realization that you are equal to non-Black female peers, and that your injuries are deserving of the same speedy and lucrative recoveries which female peers of other racial groups reap year after year, and case after case.
Still, if you can read these words, and accept them from a woman who shares your race, nationality, and struggle, take comfort in knowing that my victories are yours – and I am not accustomed to losing.
I stand and fall with you, and I will not fall. My prayer, intention, and fight has always been –live or die – that I am here to win both the battle and the war.
I will not rest or be at peace until every Black woman, descendant of slaves, is free.
With love, equity, and strength,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Each of us is unique. Yet, we also share many of the same values, likes, and dislikes. For example, in many ways I am not that hard to figure out. You can draw logical and reasonable conclusions from the simple information that you already possess about my passions and values, and this information can be useful for multiple diverse charitable, professional, or social partnerships and opportunities.
For example: if you ask for my vote, you should understand my views and values; if you need a recommendation, you should know what characteristics a good leader must possess; and, if you just want to give a good gift, you should know what experiences and material items I enjoy most – or least.
For example: The more Democrats stressed ‘you know Joe Biden’ the more painfully obvious it was that Democrats and Joe Biden didn’t know me. Clearly, Democrats didn’t do their homework – or didn’t care.
When have I ever agreed to vote for a mediocre, entitled white man who has done nothing to earn the Black vote in all of his years in government? The Joe Bidens of the world are the reason that Black people have not advanced or seen justice and redress in America; you aren’t entitled to a title, position, or status if you have not done the work. Yet, white men hold this as a sacred truth while telling their sons, daughters, and wives that they earned it.
Further, your record, resume, and experience must speak for itself. You cannot just stroll in with a ‘hey, you know me – Joe’ attitude, and believe you can just tinker about and stumble around until you get it right after you get the job. The entitlement mentality axiomatic of white American men has made America less competitive, less safe, and less democratic: non-white people understand that they must prove themselves to get the job, while white men believe that showing up is the job.
This election cost the Democratic party my support for a lifetime. I didn’t overlook the nomination and appointment of a wholly unqualified candidate when the Republicans did it, and the Democrats were flat-earth wrong to think I would jump on board when they tried it. The tragic appointment of Joe Biden aside, we have merriment to get to. Forward we march.
Here are some things (and people) I am mildly obsessed with this season, which – others have guessed or made a reasonable assumption about based on the information that they already knew about me:
The New Wonder Woman film
Governor Andrew Cuomo
Stash (but lacks good customer service)
Cats (obviously not the film)
My neighbors (a Jewish family turned out to be the best neighbors I have ever had!)
Here are some of the initiatives and causes that I support, and which were easily guessed by others:
Protection for Children
Pro Life Causes
Equitable and Organized Immigration
Here are some of the things guessed by others of which I am not a supporter and am critical of:
Pardons and Commutations
The Democratic Party
The Republican Party
Privileged individuals with illegitimate gripes: non-sensical, silver-spooned complainers and whiners
The Current (and incoming) President/Vice President (and their families)
Charitable Donations as Gifts
Solicitations from Churches and Charities
The United States Legal and Justice systems
Influencers – as a Profession
New York Law School, and its entire network of hooligans in suits
Advancing those who’ve cheated on academic and professional exams
Non-disclosure Agreements paired with Legal or Financial Settlements of Legal Matters
Those who seek and receive recognition, accolades, and compensation for merely giving lip or pen service to a cause, while ignoring the necessary work: e.g., Hashtag and marketing activists. This definitely describes YOU, and all others who solely talk about or collect money for causes without doing any real work
Also – It’s never acceptable to ask someone to ‘pick-up’ their own gift (this is so rude! Etiquette, please.)
Some of the things not commonly known which I have never done that are obvious to those around me:
I’ve never had a Netflix account
Never watched ‘The Crown’
I don’t swim in the Hudson River
Lastly, my holiday and celebratory ‘must-haves’ list guessed by others:
(appropriate and thoughtful) Cards for every holiday – including ‘thank-you’ cards for gift givers
A Celebratory Run
(And of course)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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