Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Resilience: What does it look like?

Hello Readers...

Today, I received a phone call from a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquire Daily News in Pennsylvania. She told me about a murder in Pennsylvania. A woman was murdered by her ex boyfriend while her children watched.

I was simply mortified when I received the news. I told her that my heart goes out to the victims, especially the children who watched. I prayed for their safety.

I was walking my mentee to the bus stop in order for him to get home when I heard the news. He too like these children lost his mom to domestic violence. His mother was murdered just two weeks ago as his twelve year-old brother watched. He survived a near strangulation by the killer and was able to get to the neighbors for help.

The reporter asked me what are the children feeling and going through right now. I told her the children's lives have been ripped from them. These children are terrified and absolutely lost and confused. There are no words to describe what happened today. There are no comforting feelings. It is a frightening world right now.

But like me, I too was lost. I had the same feelings losing my mother and brother. Although I was happy to be alive I felt like I was made to part with her and my brother. I left my childhood right there in the room where my mother and brother died right before my eyes. It was a massacre.

What I teach my new mentees is that there is a better day ahead for them. I teach them to cope, I show them love and patience and I validate their experience and feelings. I care. I understand how difficult this could be for them. If they were anything like me, they are devastated and empty and quite worthless. I have been there.

I have been to a place so far I did not think I was going to get a chance to ever come back. I made it this far though. I held on to a little hope. Somebody reached out to me. My grandmother saved us. She saved my brothers, sister and me.

These children need immediate help and stability. They are unstable and need comforting, but many children feel like they have been separated from security. I was too. I only had the clothes on my back when I was allowed to leave that house. It was terrifying.

Our struggles go on and our souls continue to fight. This world is full of violence and it doesn't seem like there is relief in sight. It may look like it makes no sense, but what does make sense is having those around you who love you and help to give you hope. That makes sense. These young men pressing on with their lives makes sense.

To my mentees and to all of the wonderful team players who work on behalf of victims...thank you.

That's what resilience looks like. Despair answered by hope is the answer.

Til next time...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute to Michael Jackson

My friends,

I must be very honest about the influence Michael Jackson had on my life and my art.  Growing up, I listened and danced to MJ's songs and videos anytime I heard it.  My mother would encourage me to get in front of all the family and perform.  Before then, I did not have any idea that I could sing.  At least I cannot remember.  Michael will be forever missed by me and countless friends I know.  Many may believe that his legacy is mixed, but Michael was only convicted of being a true humanitarian.  It is unfortunate that he had to travel down such a hurtful and difficult road, but he made it through to receive such a fitting tribute today by his family, friends and fans.

I was quite mixed during his trial and previous allegations of child molestation, but who am I to judge?  I thought long and hard about it and I settled on the fact that Michael was never convicted of these allegations and after all, who would want to subject themselves to an embarrassing trial?  I respect Michael and his contribution to this world truly deserves more than what we gave him.  We all live in glass houses and when we least expect it, we are constantly put on trial ourselves.  What do we expect from others when that happens?  A little mercy and understanding goes a long way.

My prayers go out to his children, family and countless people who knew and loved him.  I wish only the best for Michael's soul as it travels to endless places such as that great place we all can only contemplate -- a heaven.  

R.I.P. Michael.  Many blessings.  Thank you for your contribution.

Til next time...