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HBO’s Confirmation, Silence & Sexual Harassment

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[Note: I know this movie came out in April. But when I originally planned to publish it, Prince died. *cries purple tears* So you, know, there that went. But yesterday, I read this post on VSB and one of my Facebook friends mentioned that Clarence Thomas probably puts sugar on his grits. Since he seems to be trending this week, I figured there was no time like the present to post this.]

I have no love for Clarence Thomas. He’s Uncle Ruckus with a law degree. He’s also really bad at his really important job. If the racial draft were a real thing, the black delegation would gladly trade him for Gary Owen and the white half of Amber Rose. But the thing that people over 30 really know Uncle Thomas for is the confirmation hearings spurred by Anita Hill’s allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her during the time they worked together. If you’re not familiar you can learn more about all the nasty little details here.

Last night I watched Confirmation starring Kerry Washington (a.k.a. Olivia Pope a.k.a the GOAT of keeping her personal life a secret) and Wendell Pierce (a.k.a. Bunk Moreland a.k.a. sometimes violent Hillary Clinton supporter) on HBO, which tackles that topic head on. I was only about 6 years old when the hearings went down, but I was well informed for that age. I watched the news with my family every night and flipped through the newspaper every morning. But I was a kid, so I wasn’t exactly sure what sexual harassment was or what those hearings meant as a whole. What I remember well is the way Anita Hill was portrayed in the media. By the end of the whole thing, the narrative seemed to suggest she was a liar.

I thought the movie was pretty good. Wendell Pierce breathed a little life into the lethargic sack of potatoes that is Thomas. Washington turned out to be a great choice to play Hill. Joe Biden was very convincingly played by Greg Kinnear, though he wasn’t presented in such a favorable light. It makes me wonder if this movie is the reason he chose not to run for president. But I digress.

What really stuck out to me, which I didn’t know before was that Anita Hill did not want to go public with her accusations. She was subpoenaed and had no choice. By being forced to share her story, the very thing she did not want to deal with happened anyway. She was flat-out dragged in the news. Her testimony was dismissed by a male-dominated Congress that was going to make sure their boy Clarence would be nominated by any means necessary. I hadn’t really given it much thought whether she was actually telling the truth or just a bitter ex-employee trying to take a good black man down. Maybe I should have.

I have been sexually harassed more times than I can count. What I now am able to identify as harassment, I used to view as simple male-female interaction. It’s that common, that omnipresent. For me, it was as natural as breathing air to be judged by my appearance or be minimized because of my gender. And my race. Being a black woman in America is complicated and exhausting. There’s levels to this shit.

Early in my working life, a male superior thought it was appropriate to make questionable and unprofessional comments and insinuate that I could benefit from dating an older man (him). He would tell me how terrible I was at my job, but turn around and let me know how much he appreciated me, sometimes in the same day. He threatened my job if I ever said anything to anyone. He even told me that if I had the balls to tell anyone, no one would ever believe me.

He was probably right. That, my friends, is why women stay silent when they are harassed on the job. I was just an intern, an easy target for that type of manipulation. But Anita-she was and is an accomplished woman. At the time she was a law professor. She had accomplished so much. Her character was pristine and she was respected by her peers. And she was still dismissed.

Speaking out, especially against men with influence and power, often means jeopardizing your career. I haven’t spoken up in instances where I probably should have. Like Ms. Hill, I was fearful of the consequences and fallout. However, I want you to consider this quote and I will do the same if I am faced with this situation again. Zora Neale Hurston once said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

What I know for sure is that no job is worth the value of your soul.

Business Life

6 Reasons I’m Not Following You on Instagram and 6 Reasons I Am

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So, I recently revived my graphic tee shop Bon Bon Vie after a hiatus due to motherhood and other consequences of this thing called life. One of my first orders of business was to put some much needed energy into my Instagram account. For years, my follower count hovered at almost 1,000. I was very proud of my few followers, as they were a very engaged group. As I decided to get serious about my business again, I realized that many of my business peers had tens of thousands of followers. I needed to get to work and fast.

If you’re posting quality content regularly, a tried and true way to increase your Instagram follower count is to like, comment and follow other accounts. My strategy worked pretty well and after almost 3 months of work, I stand at 8,274 followers. I’ve always been generous with my follows. I’ve created great relationships with some of my customers as a result. I decided to keep that strategy this time around.

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So what’s the problem, you ask? Well..I’m following over 6,000 people. My feed is overwhelming, sometimes enjoyable, but mostly ridiculous. When your numbers begin to grow, you can’t be everybody’s friend.

It’s not you, it’s me. I may have to unfollow you.

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Mom Life Thoughts

I Tried the Master Cleanse and It Was a Spectacular Fail

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Water. Lemons. Maple syrup. Cayenne pepper.

If you ever needed to lose weight quick, fast and in a hurry, you likely know what that means. For the uninitiated, these four ingredients are needed to make the infamous Master Cleanse lemonade. This diet has been around since 1940 and was created by Stanley Burroughs. It has also been dubbed the Lemonade Diet and also the Beyoncé Diet because Queen Bey herself made it popular again when she used it to lose weight for Dreamgirls.

Photo source: Maple Valley Syrup

Photo source: Maple Valley Syrup

 

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Business Life

5 Books That Gave Me The Courage To Quit My Job

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Full disclosure: I’ve quit the 9-to-5 life 3 times. The first time I quit, I did the most and decided to run my business full-time, move to another state and jump into a serious relationship. At the same damn time. Probably not the best idea to make several major life decisions at once. So yeah, don’t do that. I went back to cubicle life twice after that after getting sick without health insurance. Debt ensued and I went back to what I knew.

Though a traditional job offers stability and health insurance, some of us are just wired in a way that ensures that will never be enough. Just being clear, there’s no shame in doing what you have to do to pay your bills and provide for your family. However, if that entrepreneur life keeps calling your name you owe it to yourself to go for it. Here are 5 books that helped me along my journey.

1. Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

I didn’t expect much from Escape when I bought it. I was browsing the $5 bin at Borders Bookstore (RIP) and I found this gem. This was the first time I got the quitting itch and I was desperate to make some kind of move. The title of this book really spoke to me, so i figured I’d give it a shot. This book gave me the push I needed to start my online t-shirt shop.

2. The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

This book was a gift from a friend. I love books that are interactive and workbook-y that make me really think and ask myself questions. This one fits the bill. LaPorte’s writing style doesn’t mesh with everyone. It’s a very stream of consciousness/hey girlfriend kind of vibe, but I liked the informality of it. I still pull it out and complete the companion Workbook O’ Fire whenever I feel like I’m losing direction.

3. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Parts of this book may be dated at this point (I believe it was last updated in 2009), but this was the first book I read that really sold the idea of working smarter, not harder. I’m not saying a 4-hour workweek is something that is achievable starting out, but it’s definitely a worthy goal to strive for. The idea of removing yourself as a bottleneck so your company can run without your constant input was extremely eye-opening. If you take anything away from Workweek, it should be delegate, outsource and delegate and outsource some more. They key to doing less work is to have someone else do it.

4. Is Your Genius At Work? by Dick Richards

Sometimes you know that you don’t want to do what you’re currently doing, but you’re not exactly sure what you’re meant to be doing. If you find yourself having constant existential crises about what your purpose in life is, you should explore what really makes you feel fulfilled. Genius has a lot of exercises and questions that can help you zero in on what your unique genius is.

5. Small Time Operator by Bernard B. Kamoroff C.P.A.


Numbers make me itch. I’ve never been good at math or accounting. If this sounds like you, then you need this book. It explains taxes and things in a way that even the numerically illiterate can understand. Yes, it’s awesome to have an accountant handle all of that stuff for you but you may be in for a rude awakening if you don’t understand what’s going on with your finances at all.

6. Extra Credit

The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale

If you want an instant kick in your ass, listen to this. It’s stuff you probably already know, but Nightingale delivers it in such a way that makes you really question why you’re not where you want to be…and then take action.

The Upside Of Quitting by Freakonomics Radio

I was always taught that quitting was a bad thing, but often giving up really is the right thing to do. Learn about the benefits of quitting from the economist’s perspective. Freakonomics Radio is hosted by Stephen Dubner and featuring Steven Levitt, the same guys who wrote the popular book series.

What books would you recommend to entrepreneurs who are reluctant to leave their job? Please comment and share!

Thoughts

Gone Too Soon

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“Shiny and sparkly
And splendidly bright
Here one day
Gone one night”

– Michael Jackson, “Goon Too Soon”

I wouldn’t say I was close with Ashley, but we crossed paths now and then. We were friendly. Acquaintances. We hadn’t talked regularly in years, but I remembered her fondly. It seems like just yesterday that we were in college, chatting in class.

She knew I did freelance design and web work and always thought of me when potential clients popped up. She emailed me a little over a month ago and I never responded to her email. I got caught up in the minutiae of my life and I figured I’d get to it eventually. I never did.

I was out with my sister on Saturday and we were getting much needed massages. Feeling relaxed and refreshed, I got dressed and picked up my phone and a friend texted me, “Just heard the news about Ashley Gammon”. I responded, “Wait, what???” But I already knew what that meant. When you get texts like that, you know it’s something tragic.

I can’t pretend to understand the grief her family or close friends are going through. We may not have kept in touch regularly, but Ashley’s death shook me to my core. I can’t stop thinking about it.

30 year olds aren’t supposed to die.

Especially those as beautiful, vibrant and successful as Ashley was. She still had so much life to live.

Sometimes it takes death to remind us that life is a finite gift. Make time for those who are important to you. Make an impact in the time you have, because you never know when this ride will end. Judging from the outpouring of memories and remarks on her Facebook page alone, Ashley did just that.

R.I.P.

Mom Life YMCA

The Unexpected Consequences 
of Motherhood

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Motherhood changes everything. If you don’t agree, you’re doing it wrong (just kidding, or am I?). Here are a few thoughts I’d share with my daughter if she were old enough to understand.

I’ve turned into a bit of a stalker and I regularly watch you sleep.

Unlike a dog, I sniff your butt not to be friendly, but to determine if your diaper needs changing.

Though I love hanging out with you, I have never derived so much joy from seeing another person take a nap (because you’re exhausting).

I used to live an extremely healthy existence where my lifestyle had names like vegan, vegetarian and Paleo. Now I’m a scavenger who mostly subsists on your leftover toddler scraps.

While I previously needed a minimum of half an hour to get ready, I can now shower and be dressed in about 5 minutes. Getting you ready is another story.

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Mom Life YMCA

No, No, No

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Maya and I were taking a morning walk around the neighborhood when she saw something she wanted on the sidewalk. It was a chewed up plastic hair barrette, and I didn’t think it was safe for her to have. I grabbed one piece from her, but she closed her tiny hand on to the other half so I couldn’t get to it. “NONONONONONONONONONONONO,” she screamed at me and my parenting attempt.

The dreaded day had come, my toddler learned how to say no.

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