PORTFOLIO

My articles, essays, and commentary pieces have been published
in an array of print and online publications (regionally and nationally).

Below is a brief compilation of samples.

Articles, Essays & Commentary

Young Black Woman

When Motherhood
Wasn’t In The Cards

Every day I look in the mirror and
a caramel-colored woman with closely cropped hair stares back
at me. I look at a smooth, relatively blemish-free face. I peer at the slightly dark circles under my eyes that I think are hereditary. One of
my sisters has them as does
my mother.

I Iook like a normal middle-aged woman;
I am a normal middle-aged woman. I see a neck that doesn’t have another head growing out of it. But sometimes I don’t know. Because as soon as I say I don’t have children, I can almost feel a head pushing up and out of the side of my neck.
I know that it’s not really there, but the way people look at me makes me think that there’s another set of eyes looking right back at the person looking at me.
 
I am an anomaly because I am a woman and I am childless. I am a Black woman and I am childless, so that makes me all the more strange. How can this be? That’s what we do, right? That’s what we’ve been doing—having babies for the masters, having babies to stay on welfare. Having babies to have babies. We are baby making machines, right? So, what does that make me? I am supposed to be somebody’s biological mother and I am not. The fact that I have been instrumental in the rearing of other people’s children doesn’t count. So steeped is the stereotype that every woman is a mother or should be one—especially a Black woman, that when asked about my childbearing status, the question is always How many children do you have? and not Do you have children?
And both the answer and the responses are always the same. Once they get over their initial shock, it’s as though I have invited complete strangers into my life to inquire why I don’t have children, and why I should. It doesn’t help that there are these crazy stories of women having babies up into their 70s. And when Janet Jackson announced her pregnancy at 50, I knew I was doomed. The Uterus police were coming for me. They tell me it’s not too late. I tell my self-appointed womb watchers that my eggs are fried, scrambled hard boiled. They’re not equipped to create human life. I try to lighten up the moment.

(Full story available upon request)

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R. Kelly vs. Anthony Weiner: A Tale of Two Sexual Deviants

NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is in the news again for sending sexually explicit texts and photos to women other than his wife, and a writer from the Grio believes that Weiner could learn a lesson or two from disgraced R&B superstar, Robert Kelly, better known as R. Kelly.

Kelly the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of R & B lived up to his moniker and lured the children away. He tried to make us believe that ain’t nothing wrong with a little bump and grind, and maybe it ain’t. But he was a grown man sticking his key into the ignition of girls not even old enough to have a driver’s license not banging out explicit messages on a keyboard. The comparison reminds me of how little we value Black women and girls in our society.

The rumors about Kelly had been floating around for years, and anyone who knew him didn’t deny that he had a fetish for young girls. So, when charges were brought against him, I was as happy as Kim Kardashian when she thought she hit the Kanye jackpot! He was the anti-Christ to my born-again Christianity and I don’t even go to church! I was a One Woman anti-everything R. Kelly Movement. When his songs came on in my car, much to my teenage niece’s dismay, I turned the station. When he was performing in the midst of the allegations against him, I had another niece (who was grown) ask me to charge her tickets to the concert if she gave me cash. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha—I laughed in her face. It was no secret to anyone who knew me how I felt.
I would go to verbal blows with anyone who blamed R. Kelly’s situation on anyone but Mr. Kelly himself. I couldn’t believe how many people who told me it was the girl’s fault, her parents’ fault, his entourage’s fault—anybody and everybody except him! I made crude jokes. A friend of mine is friends with Kelly, and he told me they were going to hang out to celebrate Kelly’s birthday, and I asked them if they were going to Chuck E. Cheese. A co-worker said something sideways about my anti R. Kelly stance, and I told her unless she put her hair in two ponytails and sucked her thumb, she was out of his league

(Full story available upon request)

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Black-Eyed Peas
for the Soul

Shake It Up!

The words “belly dancing”
leaped off the page of the Harold Washington College Continuing Education Catalog. Looking for something to do one summer I thought, “Here’s my chance to fulfill my secret desire to be an exotic dancer of some sort.

Since I had seen belly dancers only on TV or in the movies, my perception of the dance had been shaped by the media. So, you can imagine my surprise when, instead of a mythical voluptuous Middle Eastern woman, by instructor turned out to be tall, slim and Black.

(Full story available upon request)

Contributor to
Black-Eyed Peas for the Soul—Tales to Strengthen the African American Spirit
and Encourage the Heart.
Written and compiled by
Donna Marie Williams
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Flying Over
The Finish Line

It Started With a Bra

Who would have thought a conversation about a bra would be the catalyst I needed to change my life? It was the summer, and I had just finished a grueling workout with a personal trainer. I was trying to will my spaghetti legs to carry me home when the conversation in the locker room turned to sports bras.

I almost laughed out loud—to keep from crying
. . . But this woman seemed to know a lot about bras, so I listened. Then the woman told me about a women-of-color triathlon team. Me? Triathlons were long, grueling races for white men? How was I, a 40-year old Black woman going to finish a triathlon?

(Full story available upon request)

Contributor
Flying Over the Finish Line
—Women Triathletes’ Stories of Life
.

Edited by Susan L. Kane.
Foreword by Sally Edwards,
National Spokeswoman,
Danskin Women’s Triathlon Series
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More of Life’s Spices

Finding a Good Fit:
In Shoes and Men

In my early twenties I had a pump fetish. I had red ones, purple ones, and of course no wardrobe is complete without the requisite black pump . . . Pumps were stylish yes. Practical, no. Pump! The very word is used to describe a driving force or a drain.

From Payless to Prada, we love those good-for-nothing-but-make-me-feel-good shoes. Pumps are the bad boys of shoes—the one we want but can only have for a short period of time. So, what is it that draws women to these stylish, costly, high-heeled, no useful-purpose shoes?

(Full story available upon request)

Contributor
More of Life’s Spices
—Seasoned Sistahs Keepin’ it Real.
Edited by Vicki L. Ward.
Foreword by Lillian Comas-Diaz,
PHD. Foreword’s Book of the Year Award.
INDIEFAB Honorable Mention
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Shifts

Hair Story
Now

Standing in the food court mall, I hear a woman talking on her phone. Because cell phones are the white noise of the new millennium, she quickly fades into the background as I concentrate on something really important—what to eat.

Then I hear her say, “Excuse me. You are beautiful. That looks good on you.  I just wanted to tell you that,” she says with a nod and a smile.
I thank her and feel myself grow as her comment reaches inside and soothes my soul… I this long-hair obsessed culture, it amazes that people that
I choose to wear mine short.

(Full story available upon request)

Contributor
Shifts—An Anthology of Women’s
Growth through Change
.
Edited by Michelle Duster
and Trina Sotira
with Jen Cullerton Johnson.
USA Book Award Finalist
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Journey to a Blissful Life

The Wind of Change

For two years it rained in my life almost daily. The thunderstorms, downpours, and even light drizzles soaked my spirit. Misery and despair seeped into my being as the “wind of change” blew into my life in one form or another—a new job, a new residence, a dissolved relationship, and a series of other mishaps that blocked the sun from shining in my life.

Surrounded by people who loved me and having a job at a time when many people were out of work, I was beating myself up because I didn’t think I had a “right” to be sad. Yet the tears continued to fall as the rain beat against my soul.

(Full story available upon request)

Contributor
Journey to a Blissful Life
by Maria D. Dowd
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Mothers R Special—Celebrating Momma N’em

You Teach People
How To Treat You

One of the most important lessons my mother has imparted is teach people how to treat you. My mother is zero tolerance for disrespect.
I remember a doctor calling her Mattie and her correcting him.
“My name is Mrs. Gates.”

One of my favorite stories is one night when she was coming home from work on the bus, and a man tried to stick his hand in her purse. She slapped him from the front of the bus to the back and he ran off. Mattie G. always says, “Don’t let nobody make no fool out of you.”

(Full story available upon request)

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Chicken Soup for the Soul—Inspiration for Teachers

Meant To Be

I had graduated from college and was looking for employment when my oldest sister brought home an application for an alternative teaching program. Those accepted would earn a Master’s of Art in Teaching while working full-time in the classroom.

When I was a little girl, I had a list of careers that I wanted to pursue and teaching was one of them. So, I decided to apply to the program. . . I had gotten really excited about the program, and was disappointed when I wasn’t accepted. . . “You never wish anyone any harm, but things happen, my sister said. “What God intends for you, no one can take from you.”

(Full story available upon request)

Obituaries

Reflections from Darrell Wesson

Here I am. The one who doesn’t like funerals telling my family how to plan mine. I hope everyone got the message: don’t wear black to my funeral; wear white or any other color. Black is a color of mourning. Today is the day to celebrate my life. I know that you’ll miss me, but we’ll see each other again. And if you’re wondering why the casket is closed, I want you to remember me smiling, steppin’ or riding my bike –enjoying life!
So now, back to my life.
I was born February 15, 1963 to Roy and Werdna Wesson in Chicago, Illinois. I grew up with four sisters; Arletta and Verlina in Chicago, and Stella (Archie) and Angie in Birmingham. As a child, I heard they called me a “wall flower” because I was not really what you would call an extrovert. But for some reason, I wasn’t as shy when I went down south to Birmingham with my family. I’m not here to tell you about how great my childhood was, so if you want more details, ask my sister, Arletta. She can tell you all about the fun we had as kids!
After high school I went the college route stopping off at Circle Campus and Northeastern Illinois University for a brief stint. I was about 9 credits short of graduating when I detoured and discovered my dream job. When I started with the Chicago Police Department, my wings spread. It was a major accomplishment for me to get with CPD and doing so helped me overcome some of my boyhood shyness 

(Full obit available upon request)

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Petra Andrews 

On September 23, 1935 Petra Andrews, aka Momma, was born into the flock of Jeanette Robinson and Peter King and flew with them until November of 1955 when she married Lonnie Odell Andrews Sr. and the two of them started a flock of their own. Six children were blessed to have Petra and Lonnie as their parents! For 17 years they took turns in the lead position as their children migrated toward adulthood. They understood the power of the v formation in raising their family. Each bird in the formation flaps its wings and creating uplift for the bird following resulting in greater flying distance for the flock.
In 1955 Odell fell out of formation, and Petra became leader of her flock. With five boys and one girl, it was no easy task but Petra never faltered. If she saw anyone in her flock straying, she honked words of encouragement that we dare not share. But her words were heeded and they straightened up and flew right.
Raised Methodist, she converted to Catholicism in her 20s. Momma’s relationship with God was very important to her, and it resonated with her children as well.
When she wasn’t at the helm, she was hosting family gatherings, bowling, shopping at Whole Foods or looking for three cherries in a row—preferably at the riverboat. She also enjoyed weekend getaways with her daughter to spas
and casinos

(Full obit available upon request)

Poems

Theo & Khalilah

Tender is the love you share. May your
Hearts always beat in sync. Hoping that you create an
Extraordinary life by finding joy in the ordinary moments. Let the
Optimism of your wedding day shine brightly even on the rainy days.
Terrific are the many days ahead. Seek
Intimacy; connect
Soul to Soul. Practice
Kindness in your interactions.
Honesty is a no-brainer.
Articulate your thoughts and feelings to each other Be
Loyal.
Ind. Leave room for
Laughter. Remember:
Actions speak louder than words. Wishing you the
Happily ever-after reserved for fairytales.

LaNita & Ben

As you mark the first year of your life together, here’s wishing you
Longevity as husband and wife.
Awesome is the love you have for each other, and may that love be
Never-ending. Be the power couple you are destined to be and know that nothing you dream is
Impossible to achieve.
Tenacity is a must in weathering the ebb and flow of any relationship. Always
Advocate for each other, and remember to find
Balance between work and play; family and friends. May your marriage always be marked by the pure
Ecstasy that you find just by being in each other’s company. Create a
Narrative of a life that brings you incredible
Joy. Together you will build an
Amazing life full of wonderful
Memories that will sustain you when the days seem dark. Let the depth of the love that you shared on your wedding day be
Immutable every day. Be willing to
Negotiate. Being in relationship should outweigh being right in the relationship. Happy Anniversary, LaNita and BJ!