Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Hope for Trayvon

*Note: I wrote this the day the police made an arrest in the Trayvon Martin shooting. I couldn't bring myself to publish it.  Not sure why.  In honor of the first anniversary of his death, I decided to post this....

Everyone knows the story of Trayvon Martin.  I can barely recount the facts of what happened without getting emotional. And watching Sybrina and Tracy, Trayvon's parents?  So stoic.  My heart aches for them soooo much.  The pain and numbness in their eyes is overwhelming at times.  They'll never see Trayvon get dressed for the prom.  They'll never attend his high school graduation.  They'll never see him go to college.  Gone. Just heartbreaking.

I didn't know Trayvon personally.  But like millions of people around the world, I connected with him.  I have five nephews.  Five!  Any one of them could have been Trayvon.  Every time I see his picture, I see the faces of the young men in my family.  I think to myself, My God...this could have happened to them. It was a harsh reality check for me.

I'm a hyper compassionate person.  I have such a bleeding heart.  I wish I could help everyone who's suffering, and I often pray for people I barely know.  (I'm no Mother Teresa, but I can't help it.)  So, Trayvon's story naturally tugged at my heart.  It woke me up.  And what did I do about it?  I rallied and sent emails. I spoke up, and I hoped and prayed for justice. 

I'm still reading the reports, watching newscasts and listening to legal analysts weigh in.  And THAT my friends, is a different conversation for another time.  But, I've been thinking and wondering more and more about Trayvon...   

More than
anything, I hope that he can see and feel what has happened here.  I hope that Trayvon understands that his death wasn't in vain. The last few minutes of his life were filled with confusion and fear. I hope a feeling of love has replaced those last moments. I hope and pray. I hope he's smiling and happy.  I pray that he understands...he will not be forgotten.  People he never knew marched for him, wore hoodies in his honor, cried for him and screamed for justice. I hope somehow, he felt that...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pic Of The Day: Be Encouraged!

That's one of my BFF's on the horse below.  Isn't that a great picture?  

LJ Holloway is one of the most memorable people you'll ever meet in your life....super smart, fearless and heeeeelarious!  

This picture of her is especially meaningful for me.  Several years ago, LJ was diagnosed with a brain tumor and in 2010, she couldn't walk or talk.  But look at her now!!  Look. At. Her.  She's happy, healthy and living her life to the fullest!  (And quite fashionable if I must say so myself.) :)  

I'm inspired by LJ's courage.  I'm in awe of her strength and motivated by her tenacity. #Blessed      
LJ Holloway
To learn more about LJ Holloway and her book, "What To Do When Life Hands You A Devastating Diagnosis," go to http://ljholloway.info/

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Macy's, Eriq LaSalle Celebrate 100 Years of Gordon Parks

As part of their commitment to Black History Month, Macy's honored photographer Gordon Parks in Atlanta recently with a special panel discussion featuring Eriq LaSalle and Arnika Dawkins (Arnika Hawkins Gallery).  The event commemorated the centennial birth of this beloved artist (1912-2006). 
And just when I thought I couldn't love Gordon Parks anymore than I already do... 
I found out that the life and times of this fearless renaissance man were more than just one big happenstance. He had a divine purpose and it all began the day he came into the world.  Did you know that when he was born, he had no heartbeat (he was stillborn) and was pronounced dead?  And if it hadn't been for an attentive doctor bringing him back to life, we may have never known Gordon Parks.  His gifts, his passions, his impact on the world were deliberate. He was meant to be here. 
Eriq LaSalle and Arnika Howard

Eriq LaSalle recalled his personal memories of Parks, "He was a gentle soul. A quiet storm."  LaSalle said Gordon was also a maverick - who rarely asked permission to do things, "he just did it."  The director/writer/actor encouraged the audience to learn more about Parks and reminded the group to share the photographer's story with the youth of today.
Macy' in-store tribute to Gordon Parks

If you live in Atlanta, be sure to visit Arnika Howard's gallery at 4600 Cascade Road.  She'll be showcasing Parks' work during February and March, as well as presenting a screening of The Learning Tree (directed by Gordon Parks) on March 29th.

In addition to the folks at Macy's being rock stars and bringing this event to cities around the country, they're also giving you a chance to win a trip to the American Black FIlm Festival in Miami, a $1,000 gift card (shoes, shoes & more shoes!) and a copy of Gordon Parks': Collected Works, Steidel 2012.  Click here for more details. 

FYI: Everywhere abides by FTC guidelines and has provided me with compensation for attending this event.  However, all thoughts and opinons expressed here are my own. Duh! :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pic Of The Day: Sweet Hugs

Happy Valentine's Day!  Do me a favor and hug somebody today....and tomorrow.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Black History Month: Gordon Parks 101

"I still don't know exactly who I am," Gordon Parks wrote in his 1979 memoir, "To Smile in Autumn." He added, "I've disappeared into myself so many different ways that I don't know who 'me' is."

Wow.  Pretty profound from a man who is so well known and loved throughout the world.

Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks was a celebrated photographer who left behind a body of work that captured some of the most important aspects of American culture.  He was a visionary who also made films, composed music and wrote books.  A true renaissance man.  

He broke barriers in the world of photography; a genius at telling complex (and controversial) stories through pictures.  But you wanna know what I love the most about him?  His compassion and commitment to social justice.  

Unlike most of today's celebrities, Gordon Parks used his influence to bring attention to the ugly realities of racism, poverty and injustice.  In fact, he once called his camera a "weapon against poverty and racism."

He wasn't afraid to give a voice to the world's 'forgotten' people. His work gave people a pulse.  It made them human.  When you look at his collections, you can't turn away. You won't forget.  And for that alone, his memory will always be cemented in American History.

In honor of Black History Month, Macy's, the Gordon Parks Foundation and the American Black Film Festival will be celebrating the works of Gordon Parks in Atlanta on Saturday, February 16th (2:00 pm, Macy's Lenox Mall).  If you've never seen his work, go. You'll be amazed. I promise. 


Monday, February 4, 2013

Chef Marcus Samuelsson Says....

I had the pleasure of meeting Marcus Samuelsson recently in Atlanta.  He's a part of the Macy's Culinary Council and they brought him to town - to their Lenox location to give some hands-on cooking techniques, share more about his personal story (An amazing story!) and meet some of his fans.  

Yeah, he's a chef, but he's also an author, a philanthropist, owner of six restaurants and....get this: Vanity Fair magazine named him as one of their "Internationally Best Dressed" men in 2011.  How dope is that?!  
I admit, I'm a fan and I love good food, so this was right up my alley.  I learned a lot too.  Here are some of Marcus' most memorable quotes: 

                "Food is healing.  Ginger, garlic make you feel better and...they prevent illness." 

                "Learn to connect to your family through cooking...create history, memories." 

                "Burning yourself is all a part of becoming a chef!" 

Did You Know?  Marcus planned and executed the Obama Administration's first State dinner. Wanna know what President Obama's favorite food is?  Click here to see what Marcus says.        
Me, Marcus and my friend Tee


Friday, February 1, 2013

Black History Month Spotlight...Chef Marcus Samuelsson

It's officially Black History Month!!!  A great time to recognize the contributions and legacy of African Americans.  

If you're anything like me, you don't just celebrate Black history in February. I personally celebrate diversity and my culture every chance I can get.  Whether it's literature and music or the arts and technology, I applaud and appreciate African American history makers. 

Which brings me to my next point.... I love, love, love people who are at the top of their game.  Game changers is what I call 'em.  LOVE.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson

Marcus Samuelsson is a game changer.  He was born in a village in Ethiopia.  When his mother died of tuberculosis, he and his sister were adopted by a family in Sweden. After working in restaurant kitchens for years, he landed in New York.  He went on to earn a three-star rating from the New York Times twice (he was the youngest chef to earn this), and in 2003, he was named the best chef in New York by the James Beard Foundation. 

Fast forward to 2013.  Marcus is 
still a game changer. He's the owner of six restaurants, including one of my favorites, Red Rooster in Harlem (Sunday brunch is THE best!) You've probably seen him on 'The Next Iron Chef," and "Top Chef Masters."  And he's partnering with the Macy's Culinary Council to share his delicious cooking secrets with people throughout United States. Tomorrow, he's headed to Atlanta, where he'll stop by Macy's at Lenox (2:00 pm) to give tips to customers for Sunday's big game.  
Whew! Busy man.  

To learn more about Marcus, be sure to pick up his memoir, "Yes, Chef" or visit 

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