Soooo, I figured this introduction should fall somewhere between a resume, a Tinder profile, and a Lifetime pitch for a bio pic. Like to hear it here it go! lol
For a long stent as a kid, my mother and I lived with my mother’s cousin, a historian that specialized in African American History and the African Diaspora. (When she taught at Spelman College, the students called her “Dr. Death” if that gives you any idea of her intensity.) I remember lots of things from that time. I remember living in a house where her books lined nearly every first floor wall in 2 to 4 feet stacks. I remember meeting people and eating food from around the world. I remember the time she showed up to my regular Joe middle-class middle school assembly program bearing all of the prime minister presence and appearance of Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi. (It was actually pretty dope. “What country is she from? India?” Naw. Indiana.) What I remember just as much as all of that is the night she cooked her students an elaborate spread, hosted them in our home, talking, discussing, decrypting and dismantling a written work from her class; She wasn’t just a teacher or professor with pen poised to give a grade, she was an educator. My mother wasn’t any different. They were cut from the same cloth. To receive education and give it liberally – this was one of our family’s most prized heirlooms.
Both of my parents worked in the areas of economic and community development. They brought me everywhere with them, and instructed me in their world. From daddy’s late night city council meetings to momma’s youth groups in public housing, compassion, race, politics, policy, and poverty became the backdrop and sometimes a dictatorial lead character in our lives. Those issues bedded my consciousness as well as my conscience.
I was recently watching #MLKNow. (How amazing was that?!?) As Harry Belafonte spoke at the event, I smiled, remembering when he planted a kiss on my 8 year old cheek. When my mother and I moved to Atlanta, her first job was with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; I spent evenings/events in the company of Martin Luther King III, Dexter King, Danny Glover, Marla Gibbs (played the maid on The Jeffersons) and other activists. I spent days playing in the same halls Dr. King walked, looking at the organ keys stained with his mother’s blood at Ebenezer, and hanging out at the King Center reading and listening to speeches to pass the time away.
When SCLC went to Alabama to hold a commemorative march in Selma, I proudly held the banner with a few other folks/kids, leading the march. I felt like a soldier that had just had glory and position bestowed upon him, a child finally old enough to serve in the elders’ victory dance – if only to hold the banner. Not for one moment did it escape me the auspiciousness of doing so with Corretta Scott King and a lake of others following closely behind. And how could the gravity of the moment escape me? I had been devouring books on Civil Rights and all manner of Black history since I was in the 2nd grade. (Most kids just get new school clothes at the start of a grammar school school year. I got that…aaaand an adult level book on the history of the African slave trade. Yep. Momma’s cousin was straight like: “Here. So you can challenge your teacher if she says something wrong.”)
Needless to say, I was a pretty deep kid. lol
I began to use my voice against racial injustice and to communicate my soul when I began to write poetry. God used the art form to help save my life. A six time local NAACP ACT-SO competition gold medalist and a National NAACP ACT-SO bronze medalist (in poetry), by the time I was 18, I was a published award-winning poet and public speaker, performing nationally as a Spoken Word artist, including winning a spot on the Atlanta MooreEpics Slam Team. At that time, I was the youngest professional Slam Poet in a city lauded for its highly skilled performance poets.
Then the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry. From the waters lifted me….and don’t y’all know He just keeps right on liftin’? Yaaaaas! lbvs You know, you can be happy, you can be popular, you can go to church, you can be conscious-minded, you can be kind, talented, cheesy or greasy, but still need just a little mo’ Jesus. Ha! Well, I needed a lotta mo’ – starting with baptism in His name and the in-dwelling of His Spirit. I’m so glad Jesus met me where I was, and performed a change within me that I could never have accomplished on my own. By His grace and mercy, I have been serving, learning, and growing as a minister for nearly 13+ years and as a Christian for longer than that.
I graduated from the esteemed Northwestern University with a degree in Speech and Language Pathology and African American Studies. The latter discipline included not only the study of Black people in America, transnational Black culture and Black history, but the cross-racial and cross-cultural investigation of race, poverty and policy in America.
While in undergrad studying for my Bachelor of Science degree, I began a career in Behavior Analysis and Therapy. I have continued to work in the fields of education, special education, behavior, speech and language therapy to this day. Add researcher and scientist to what I do; in 2019, I received a Master of Science degree in Behavior Analysis and Therapy. Without question, my understanding of this complex science, knowledge of demonstrated principles in research, combined with 10+ years of experience in education + therapy, provide me with a unique multi-dimensional lens through which I am able to view and understand the machinations of racism, injustice, inequity and inequality.
Aside from all of that good stuff, I’m a mother, a visual artist and a thrifting aficionado.
Pray for me as I grow in love and understanding and try to share whatever light I can before this journey is over. And if no one else tells you that they love you today, let me be the one – I love you.