Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Living Single With Faith, Hope & Purpose - Ebony Magazine

If you're free TONIGHT, Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 8 pm, please join me (@Enjoyceinglife) and @EbonyMag for their FIRST ever Twitter chat based on "Single Ladies," my article about the state of dating and relationships in the October issue of Ebony Magazine. 

Having a real conversation about the state of dating and relationships with six single African American women in Atlanta was not at all what I expected. While I never thought the discussion I was moderating for Ebony Magazine would be a male-bashing session, I did not expect it to be as empowering for me as it was.

I was dreading bringing up the unmarried statistics or unearthing the media's favorite dead horse: "Why can't black women find good black men?" But the ladies even had interesting perspectives on those tired aspects of the reality of their lives that, as a thorough journalist, I had to address. What was most encouraging, especially because I'm single, too, is the positive outlook that all of the women - ages 27 to 43 - had about their prospects for a satisfying relationship in their future.

Outside of my cousin Krystal Gambrell, and a new friend I met that evening, Alisa Benjamin, I'd known all of the women a year or so mostly through our professional relationships. But as sisters sometimes do, we had a little wine, cheese, fruit and desert in the comfort of my parents' home, and fell into an easy conversation about what can be a hard and painful topic. Their clear-eyed comments were refreshing. Some of my favorites had to do with dating as a single parent, which speaks to my experience:

"It's my job to make sure my son respects me and doesn't see different men in an out of the house. With most guys, it increases their respect for me because I guess it shows that I have values and standards." - Kia Smith

"Someone has more of an advantage when he has children, and I can really hone in on what type of father he is. Are you the father who sees his child once a month and that's OK with you? That's not a good sign that you want to be there for my children." - Tracy Nicole

We did talk about being approached by married men, online dating, the endless pressure to get married, and, of course, how quickly sex comes into play. But the most moving part of the discussion came when the ladies shared the importance of faith, hope and purpose:

"[When I was in my 20s] I thought that walking down the aisle, having a ring and a baby would complete me....But I hadn't found my purpose...Now that I am focused, I can't keep the guys away. When guys see you are a woman who is focused and driven, you don't have to worry about the numbers." - Erin Harper

"When I say I have hope, it's because of [my previous marriage]. I have hope that if [my first husband] found me, then somebody else is going to find me. I want to be open to the same type of integrity that he had and the trust that I had in him and not be guarded because of all the stuff that we do see. I know it's real, but that relationship was real, too." -  Cecilia Bailey

So if you see Gabrielle Union grinning at you from the newsstand over the next few weeks, check out my piece in the October issue of Ebony. Can't wait? Here's a pretty good excerpt. There's also a roundtable of single black men in Washington, D.C., in the same issue that is certainly eyebrow-raising. I'd love to hear your thoughts about their perspectives on dating and relationships as well.

Okay, so my 6-year-old daughter - on her birthday - records a video - through a patio window - of a photo shoot that is being done of a round table about dating and relationships I conducted for Ebony Magazine. My wonderful mother provided direction to the photographer, who was so gracious in his acceptance of her suggestions. I love how my baby handles an iPhone and how my mother always has my back! You just can't beat family.

I am so honored that Ebony's FIRST ever Twitter chat is based on my article!!! Hope to see you on Twitter TONIGHT, Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 8 pm, for @EbonyMag's chat about dating and relationships. I'll be tweeting from @Enjoyceinglife. I can't wait to hear your feedback!

Keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Love Inspired: Angela Davis & Toni Morrison

When I posted this photo of legends Angela Davis and Toni Morrison to my Facebook page this morning a friend made my heart melt with this comment:

My first treasured gift from [my husband] before we married was a first British edition of Davis' autobiography, which was nurtured and edited by Morrison. (that's when I knew this guy really gets me!)

Who doesn't want a love connection like that!?!? Okay well maybe shared respect and admiration for literature, creativity and activism isn't on everybody's potential partner list, but that sure speaks to me - loudly. 

When I first saw this photo, all I could wonder was, what must they be talking about? Political prisoners? Hair? Effective writing? I'd have trailed them for miles just to eavesdrop. 

Well now I get to discuss the power of Davis' years of activism, advocacy and academic discourse on women's rights, prison abolition, feminism and race. And you can, too! Please join me tomorrow, Wed, 9/12, noon-1pm on Twitter for a chat about Davis' impact on politics and justice. To participate or even just view, please follow @SpelmanCollege or @enjoyceinglife and use hashtag #InsideSpelman

If you're in Atlanta, Davis will be at Spelman College [for free] on Mon., 9/17, to discuss women, voting and citizenship. Timely, huh? Details in the September issue of Inside Spelman

Davis and superbad political science professor and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry (coming in spring 2013) are guest lecturers at Spelman's inaugural Ida B. Wells-Barnett Lecture Series, which addresses contemporary issues impacting women. Named after the most inspiring journalist EVER and featuring powerful women of change, I just have to ask, does it get any better than this? I'm thoroughly amped!

Keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gabrielle Douglas: Interviewing the Champ & Her Mother!

When I got the email asking me if I wanted to interview Olympian Gabrielle Douglas and her mother Natalie Hawkins for the cover of Jet magazine, I was beside myself. I had watched this young woman, this fierce athlete, inspire awe in the world throughout the London Games. And I'd tuned into the media and social media insanity - including my own - that erupted around her instant fame. I was more than amped. I was ready to have some good conversation with these women who at their core are about family and excellence.

They were ready for me, too. I asked the hard questions and they gave honest answers. I ended our interview feeling respect and admiration not just for what the 16-year-old had accomplished, but for the grace in which she handled herself under some unfathomable pressure and sometimes ugly spotlight. And as a mother, I was motivated by the warrior nature and ferocious love of her mother. 

I'd never written a cover story for Jet before and for Gabrielle Douglas to be my first was an awesome honor. I feel truly blessed to be a small part of history recording her record-breaking feats in a periodical that for more than 60 years has been one of the few committed to uplifting the triumphs of people of African descent. 

The September 3, 2012 issue of Jet will be on the newsstands for one more week. I'd love for you to pick it up and support Jet, Gabrielle and me! Please check out the article [sneak peak here] and let me know what you think. And keep Enjoyceinglife. It's a wonderful world out there!

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