Who are YOU Running For?

Running Post

It was hot! As I stepped out of my truck and onto my friends rocky, gravely driveway parking lot, I was already hot, even though it was early in the morning. And I think I had kind of an attitude because I didn’t want to be here. I mean why am I going through all of this? Why do I keep coming back to see this friend? My friend that forces me to slow my mind down while at the same time is pushing my body to go just a little bit faster, just a little bit farther and to go beyond the weariness I sometimes feel. Why won’t my friend just let me be and let me stay in the same place with the same pace? I mean, I’m comfortable there. Why do I keep coming back to see this friend who seems to just take me round and round in circles that are sometimes painful? I really don’t know why, but I couldn’t dwell on these questions, my friend, Lake Montebello was waiting for me.

As I walked across the smooth stones, I couldn’t help but think, “Ugh! I can’t WAIT for this to be over!” I stepped into my friend’s house on the track, and I start jogging. I had not even jogged 3 minutes and already I said to myself, “You know what, I can just stop and turn around and walk back to the truck and just go to the gym (even though I knew I was lying to myself, I wasn’t going to the gym if I left), you don’t have to run today.” Even though my legs weren’t tired, I was going to just stop and turn around and go back to the truck, because I was a little uncomfortable and going back was easier. Even though my breathing was o.k., I was just going to stop and turn around and go back to the truck, because, again, it was easier. I could feel my body begin to relax at the thought of just stopping, turning around and walking back to that truck. All because I didn’t feel like it. All because I was a little uncomfortable. All because the sun was shining bright and had a little heat to it. Not the sweltering, stay inside in the cool kind of heat. It was just a little more heat than normal, but in less than 3 minutes into the run, sweat was running from my body as if it couldn’t get away fast enough. It was getting in my eyes, running down my back and…I just didn’t feel like it! And just as I was getting ready to cross over from the running lane into the road on my right side and I am in the middle of telling my friend “Thanks for understanding, I will come back tomorrow”, my mind traveled back to a different time and to a different place. I was no longer at Lake Montebello in Baltimore, MD. I was in Cumberland Green apartments in Millville, New Jersey in the living room of apartment 25B.

There she was, as pretty as always. She was walking out of her room and through the living room into the kitchen and she was smiling. She had on her red fitted tight jeans (women don’t wear baggy jeans she said), with her red, cream and blue striped shirt, all pressed to a T, creases and all! She always said, “Taria, you need to iron your clothes or you will look like you came out of a paper bag. Even if you’re just sitting round’ the house.” And she is right…I just HATE ironing! Thank GOD that Clorox life hacks showed me that all I had to do was get a couple of ice cubes and toss them into the dryer along with whatever is wrinkled and between the heat from the dryer and the steam from the melting ice cubes, the wrinkles would fall out. Oh how right they were! Or I could just ask my husband to iron…Other than the woman I am describing, he is the best ironer (that might not be a word) ever. Anyway, as she was walking, I saw her naturally long and rounded at the tip nails were painted a bright and beautiful shade of red and her fingers were wrapped in beautiful gold rings. I loved her rings and the way they looked on her hands and would try them on sometimes, while simultaneously trying to talk her into giving them to me. And no, she didn’t give them to me. She was firm on that no! I saw she had on the gold chain with a cross hanging from it that she never seemed to be without and as she was walking from her room to the living room and into the kitchen, the sunlight from the white horizontal blinds that hung over the den window, caught the reflection of one of her gold hoops and caused the room to get just a little bit bigger and just a little bit brighter or so I thought…Looking back, I now know that in one quick, unguarded moment of her just walking, the sun had actually managed to catch her and who she was, which was what really made the room a little bit bigger and a little bit brighter. She…is my Grand mom Mattie.

That memory caused me to stand still for a moment out there at Lake Montebello. But only for a moment. Then out loud, not caring who saw me, I said to my body, “You need to run.” I started slowly running again, under the same conditions as before, except where there was once sweat running from my brows into my eyes telling me it was too hot, there were now prayers of my heart, running from eyes in the form of tears, acting as navigators to get my prayers’ to GOD’s ears and more importantly to his heart. He needed to heal my Grandmother completely from the effects of a stroke that she suffered in March. And while she is making progress, I am trusting GOD for more. So I said to GOD, “I will RUN WITHOUT complaint, regardless of the conditions, for those who can’t walk on their own, no matter what happens with my Grand mom. However, I DO want you to heal my Grand mom to be able to walk again, regardless of the stroke conditions.” And I made a promise to myself that I would RUN strides that may sometimes be laced with soreness while outlined in weakness, so that my Grand mom and others could WALK in steps full of comfort and strength…

The reason I am able to run in the first place is because of my Grand mom Mattie and her daughter Sharon, my mother, who ran BEFORE me, FOR me. And as I got older, I saw them run when they were tired. I saw them run when they could have easily walked. I saw them run to help others (and they helped/help me…A LOT) when they could have used that strength for themselves. I saw them run in strength while clothed in dignity. I saw them stand firm in their beliefs’ which taught me how not waiver in my beliefs’, even when we didn’t agree…with each other. The reason I was not afraid to go 8 hours away to school, to try new things (except new foods, I am still in my box with that one…pray for me) and even move away from my safety net in New Jersey (even though their net STILL reaches wide enough to catch me when I fall) is because of them.

Back in January of this year, me, my husband, our two children at home, my mom and my dad flew to San Antonio, Texas to see my oldest daughter graduate from Air Force Boot camp. She is now stationed in North Dakota and is training to become an MP/Military Police and was just awarded a coin of excellence…WOOOOHOOOO YASSSSS!!!!! #PROUDMOMMOMENT.

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The first night there my mom called me and asked what we were doing (her and my dad stayed in a different hotel). I told her I found a store I wanted to go to and she said, “Where are Cory (the hubby) and the kids?” I said, “Back at the hotel.” She said, “You young people are braver than we were, my generation. I wouldn’t be out driving around by myself without your dad in a place I hadn’t been before.” But what she doesn’t realize is, SHE is the reason I am brave enough to go out and explore life…Because I watched her run for me and my brothers and my dad…In Bravery.

And now it’s my turn…And I have to keep running…I have no choice because I have children I am raising who are apart of the next generation. Children who will need to be strong enough to run the path that was predestined for them while they run their own pace…But if I allow my weakness’ to stop me from running MY life race, who will they draw strength from? From whose well, will they be able to draw a drink of endurance, courage and tenacity, to keep running towards their goals and running for their beliefs and their strength to run for others who can’t run for themselves, if they see that I allowed idleness, fear and laziness to distract me and stop me mid run? I have to keep running…I have to keep running so that my children can see that I believe that WE WILL SEE the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. I have to keep running…because one day, I may need someone to run for me…

I want to encourage anyone who feels like life itself is getting heavier and weighing you down, almost to the point that you feel like you won’t make it, think on Isaiah 40 vs. 31,” …they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” …Keep Running…

Or maybe the hunger of dreams that have yet to be fulfilled, is making you feel dehydrated and thirsty and like you want to drop out of the race, remember John 4 vs. 14, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst…”

I love you guys and thank you for reading…And remember…Keep Running!

Dear Stacey Dash…My #TBT…To You…On a Sunday…

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Recently Stacey Dash did a memoir plug er’ I mean online interview with People. In this interview she speaks about different topics. One of which is feminism. In regards to being a feminist she said,” I don’t have to dress like a man or try to beat a man or try and get a man’s job to be a feminist.” She then goes on to say that women are, “chipping away at what it is to be a woman and to be feminine, and what it is to be a man and be masculine.” However, she clearly did not research the meaning of feminism before speaking on it. The word feminist means, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” In what way is that “chipping away at men” or suggesting we should “dress like a man?” After reading the transcribed interview, I realized that whenever Stacey Dash opens her mouth, she proves herself to be less and less credible and without knowledge or fact. I feel like once again, just like in the case of BET-Gate, Ms. Dash has proven that she talks without the benefit of researching her subject and therefore is an interview in contradictions. Ahhhh BET-Gate remember that? Well in light of her interview roughly 10 days ago, her BET shenanigans came back up again, so I decided to post a letter that I wrote to Ms. Dash when BET-Gate first happened. I had initially struggled with whether or not I would post my open letter to Ms. Dash since it was based mainly around her comments about the BET awards and Black History Month, and we are now in June. Then I decided, it’s never NOT the right time to learn about my history, black history. So here it is…my open letter to Stacey Dash…

Dear Stacey Dash,

With you currently serving in the position of a Fox news correspondent who also provides cultural analysis and commentary, I am sure you understand the necessity of research given the fact that in order to provide an accurate analysis, one must first perform a “detailed examination of the elements or structure of something, typically as a basis for discussion or interpretation”.  However, given your recent sit down with Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends, it seems that although you had a surplus of cultural commentary, you were deficient when it came to your cultural analysis. You stated in your sit down that, “We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration, and if we don’t want segregation, then we have to get rid of channels like BET, and the BET awards and the Image Awards, where you’re only rewarded if you are black.”  If in fact you had done your research Ms. Dash, you would have known that Sam Smith (who is NOT of the African American persuasion and is in fact a white male), was nominated and won a BET award in 2015 and was also awarded an NAACP Image award in the outstanding duo, group or collaboration category. There were other whites who have been nominated for BET and Image awards before him, and I am sure there will be others after him. But for the sake of brevity, I shall leave that research up to you, the cultural analysis commentator. I due wonder if Mr. Smith, again a white male, stands in solidarity with you on the issues you have with BET and the Image awards? I bet it is safe to say that Mr. Smith and his “black awards” are sleeping peacefully at night while dreaming up his speech for the next “black” awards season.

And to add buffoonery to the moronic, you posted a blog titled: “How BET lies to black people”, because the network publicly called you out for being a part of a BET sitcom titled “The Game” and asked if they could “get their checks back”, which by the way, we are still waiting for your answer or a copy of a check from BET confirming you did in fact return the money from a show which in your words, “no one ever heard of.” You then wrote that “you were grateful for your all of your acting jobs but you don’t like the fact that BET will self-segregate while simultaneously talking about the injustice of a segregated society.” Ms. Dash, again, had you been as diligent in research as you are in maintaining your habit of inaccurate verbosity whenever a camera or keyboard is nearby, you would know that Robert L. Johnson, the African American man who took the monumental step of launching BET, did so by acquiring a $15,000 loan from a bank and getting a $500,000 investment from John Malone, a white male who was the president and CEO of Telecommunications Inc., who expressed that he, “had an interest in seeing minority cable happen because he had a station in Louisville that had a large black population.” Fast forward to the year 2000 when BET was sold to Viacom, a company controlled by the privately owned theater company National Amusements, which is owned by Billionaire Sumner Redstone, a white male.  Now maybe I am being “Clueless”, but it seems to me, Ms. Dash that BET has actually been “integrated” from it’s very inception.

And now, the Piece De Resistance of this letter that I do hope fills you up in your empty spaces… In a tone and words reminiscent of your first major film character, Dionne, you stated that, “There shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know? We’re Americans. Period. That’s it.” And to further solidify your position as a pawn being used by Fox to allow them to get away with spewing racist thinking because this racist hate is coming FROM a black woman, you blindly allow Steve Doocy to lead you to say exactly what FOX thinks. Mr. Doocy asks you, “if you meant there shouldn’t be a Black History month because there isn’t a white history month”, to which you say, “Exactly. Exactly.” When I saw this, I first thought to myself, she can’t be serious.” Then I thought, “Sadly, you probably were serious. And I actually felt sad for you. Sad for the Stacy Dash that is confident in speaking about the history of a people she clearly knows nothing about, even though her mirror shows her black history every day. So Ms. Dash, let me provide you with a few “Black History” facts.

*The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. The primary focus of this week was to place an “emphasis on encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation’s public schools.” This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of which dates Black Communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century. Mr. Woodson was of the belief that, “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

*In 1969 it was proposed by a group of students at Kent State University to expand black history week to Black History Month, the first of which took place at Kent State one year later, February, 1970.

*In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial the informal expansion from Black History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the United States government. White Republican President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

I hope this brief scroll through my black history, your black history, our black history inspires you to acknowledge and appreciate that the path you traveled to Hollywood, to the spotlight, was built on the backs of your ancestors. The platform you are standing on and using to diminish the meaning and importance of black history is being held up by your ancestors whose hands are cracked and bleeding from the whips that ripped into their flesh along with being worn down by the harsh sun they were forced to work in all day.

Ms. Dash, I close with this question to you: Do you even know who you really are and do you have your own voice? Or have you become a political Millie Vanilli that has been strategically placed front and center stage and although we see your lips are moving to give the appearance that these are your real live beliefs, are you actually just lip synching to views that were already prerecorded in a racist history?

 

 

 

3 Things Cassius Clay taught a girl who knows nothing about boxing…Before becoming Muhammad Ali…

 

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1-What they stole from you, will push into your destiny…

When Cassius Clay was 12 years old, he was gifted a bike that was eventually stolen from him. He decided to report the bike as stolen and went down to the local police department where he told Police Offer Joe Martin (who was also a boxing coach) that he was going to “whup the thief that stole his bike”, to which Officer Martin replied, “You better learn to box then” and thus, his intro to the world of boxing and a new life. Side note, the bike nor the thief ever materialized.

Reading this particular snippet about Cassius Clay (his name at that time), really made me think about life and what I felt had been “taken” or “stolen” from me. At one point in life, I had what felt like a great job with security, making good money, a nice 401k plan and insurance benefits and then one day I felt like it was snatched and stolen from me. And I was angry… and deep down, not quite sure how I would recover from it. There were many days when I asked myself, “Who AM I without that job? What is my identity? How will I get to the next phase of my life without my job as transportation?” I too wanted to “whup” the betrayers who stole my job, and then I realized, “I had to learn to fight…in the spirit.” See, it wasn’t about the people who I believed betrayed me but it was about what GOD needed FROM me that would actually turn out to be good FOR me. I had been feeling unfulfilled, not satisfied and uncomfortable in the job I was in for a while, however, I wouldn’t have just up and left and gave the company their job back. So it was snatched from under me, so that I would have no choice but to move into a new part of life that required me to totally trust, have faith and completely depend on GOD for a future I couldn’t even see just yet. I had to learn to fight. My prayer life grew which built my stamina to be able to survive 12 rounds in the ring of sadness, depression and fear of the unknown. My study time in my bible learning GOD’s word, became the blows that I would use to knockdown the enemy and defeat anything that tried to come against me. My motto became Psalms 144:1, “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight…” I was a fighter…

2-A man given title symbolizes just that…A title…nothing more

In the 1960 Olympics held in Rome, Cassius Clay was given the title Light heavyweight champion and given an Olympic Gold medal as a symbol that was supposed to be reflective of his title. And it was said that he was proud of this medal, and wore it all the time. Then came the day when upon his return back to the USA, Olympic Gold medalist Cassius Clay’s 6ft. 3-inch frame wrapped in muscles the color of cinnamon honey, with a smile just as pretty, decided he wanted to eat at a small diner. A diner located in Ohio which was again, in the same country whose medal hung around his neck swinging with each commanding step he took. And he was refused service because of the color of his skin. He was refused service because of who he was, a black man. And so the tale goes on that he was so angry that he took off the medal and threw it over a bridge into the Ohio river. He claimed “he didn’t want to wear a medal in a country where he couldn’t be served.” It was also told that he later said he “lost” the medal. But either way, the reality that he was refused service in a country that he represented as a champion, had to be a blow to him, and yet he never wavered in what he believed about himself and surely never came up short in the arena of self-esteem.

Although I have never been given the title of Olympic Champion along with a gold medal, I have been given man made titles throughout various occasions of my life. One of those titles was “Employee of the year.” Now, you would have had to work where I used to in order to truly and fully understand what that title, along with the plaque that came with it meant. At the beginning of January, ballots would come out and you had to vote for office employee of the year and field (technician) employee of the year. And there was SUCH a buildup and excitement of the announcement, that always took place at the big holiday party with everyone and their spouses/friends/coworkers dressed in their finest and held in a hotel ballroom. It was like the Olympic ceremonies but for work. And then one year, it was different. The year yours truly (yes me,) won this coveted symbol. During a regular work day, a meeting was held in the conference room for all of the administrative staff that was present and a speech was given by the president of vices stating, “Going forward, we don’t want the focus of the holiday party to be just about the employee of the year. We don’t want people upset and not enjoying themselves at a beautiful party after the announcement. We want everyone to have a good time, so we will announce it here.” And just like that, my name was called and I was given my plaque and we all went back to our desks. I was then pulled aside and told, “We will mention your name at the party but again we don’t want that to be the focus of the party. This is how we are going to do it from here on out” Hhhmmmm…. Okkayyy. And yet, the following year and years after, they went back to their way of announcing the winner at the party.

I was really disappointed for a while. I felt like my hard work and dedication to the company had earned me the votes to represent them and the right to be honored and respected. At yet, they were more concerned with offending others…because it was me. And while I didn’t take my plaque and throw it into the Baltimore River, (that would have required me standing on the bridge, like, not sitting in a car…ummm no way…), I realized that titles and plaques that are given to you by man can sometimes mean nothing and that I couldn’t allow myself to let the titles bestowed to me by man, become the bricks that built my self-worth. Because those same people could also become the hammer and chisel, breaking you down until you are in pieces. Those same people who chose you today, may not choose you tomorrow. And while I know that Cassius Clay’s issue was about the color of his skin, the color of his skin was who he was and who he was made them uncomfortable, just like who I AM may make others uncomfortable. But I, Taria, was chosen by GOD. In John 15:16 GOD reminds me, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” I AM a Winner…

3-You can make history…just keep moving

On February 24th, 1964, Cassius Clay’s 210-pound ego & voice entered a room full of sports writers who had their pens on his opponent, Sonny Liston to win…Cassius spent so much energy shouting how great he was that he ended being fined $2,500 by the commission and the fight that would cement this great fighter in history, almost didn’t come to be. Due to Cassius’ elevated heart rate and blood pressure brought on by his extreme taunting of Sonny Liston, the fight was in danger of being canceled if his heart rate and blood pressure did not get back to normal. They did. The fight went on and at one point in the 4th round he started complaining that there was something burning in his eyes and he couldn’t see. Angelo Dundee, his trainer said, “I get the sponge and I pour the water into his eyes trying to cleanse whatever’s there, but before I did that I put my pinkie in his eye and I put it into my eye. It burned. There was something caustic in both eyes.” Cassius Clay later said he could, “only see a faint shadow of Liston during most of the round” but by “circling and moving he managed to avoid Liston and somehow survive.” But by the sixth round, he said he had regained his sight and went on to win the fight. Cassius Clay defied all the odds and the predictions against him and showed that the impossible could be done…The Son could be eclipsed. And he gave other boxers hope…One could say that in that moment, he became a legend…He was the Champion…

I am not a boxer, but I am a fighter, and there are times in life when I feel like life is bigger than me and stronger than me and will knock me down before I reach my dreams and catch them. But then I remember, WHO I am and WHOSE I am. I remember who trained me and who my corner man is, the one who breathed the very life that I am living, into me. And I know that I must keep fighting for everything GOD promised me and my family. On the days when life seems so heavy and tears burn my eyes and blur my vision, I remember, Taria, just keep moving, because you can’t allow the enemy to take your vison, or you’ll perish. Keep moving.

 I want to encourage anyone who feels like you are up against a situation that seems bigger then you, that seems stronger than you, a dream that seems impossible to attain and naysayers are standing ring side waiting for you to fall down, think on Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” You ARE a Champion…

I love you guys and thank you for reading!

 “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”-Muhammad Ali