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THE MAN IN THE ARENA
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”
delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910
download PDF of complete speech
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat… THEODORE ROOSEVELT
Originally posted on speakjoy13:
One of the traits I am so grateful I adopted from my parents was the desire to try NEW things. In this case food. My first best friend going up was bi-racial, Korean and White. My second best friend was bi-racial …Korean and White. (just realizing that as I write this blog) Even today I have an affinity for Asian food. Now this is the kicker. Both of these friendships occurred in the west Texas town of El Paso. El Paso is perched on the western most tip of Texas. So you better know I can make a mean some mean taco’s and enchiladas. I love tamales but I’ll leave that to the pro’s. I had an apartment located where I could see Juarez, Mexico, New Mexico, and of course El Paso from my balcony. Two countries, three cities and states from one vantage point. Those were some of the…
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There are no smooth paths on the road to your dreams. Whatever smooth path you find, surely life’s strategically placed sprinkle of water and oil will take care of that.
“Who cares.” Said one reader of Global Grind regarding the KimYe cover of Vogue. I quickly posted. “ Oooohh OOOhhh OOOhhh ! ” (RAISING MY HAND HIGH LIKE ARNOLD HORSE SHACK) I DO!!! The cover flooded social media like no other. I typically have to wait to hear the thud of the magazine landing on my porcelain floor via mail slot before I have any idea of whose on the next cover.
I was introduced to Vogue when I was 10 years old. My mother took me to the Vidal Sassoon salon in Atlanta Georgia to have my hair done. She said that they might be able to use me as a model. The stylist played with my hair and brushed it back and forward. He explained to my mother that it had been over processed, but he would be able to help. After several minutes of sitting in the chair he spun me around and to my amazement there was no Farah Facet flip, no page boy, but a well coiffed afro of maybe a little more than one quarter inch of hair.
Upon returning to school that Monday the verbal attacks began. Everything is a blur up to a meeting with my mother in principles office. She was an older, very well put together attractive woman with a short straight hair cut. She told me that the other other children were jealous and that my short cut was En Vogue. I had no idea what “In Vogue” was, and was wishing that the other children weren’t so jealous. I didn’t feel En Vogue at all, I just felt how they made me feel…bald.
My mother showed me a Vogue magazine. She flipped through the pages and pointed out all of the things that the children made fun of me about, from my skinny legs to my short hair. Even my light skin they made me feel guilty about for not being darker. Everything they tried to strip from me, Vogue and later Essence magazines restored.
My father purchased a subscription for me by the time I was 14 years old. I learned about style, architecture, home design and culture. It helped me to define my own identity and take risks. Some good, some bad, but all mine. I don’t struggle to understand why Kim and Kanye are on the cover. Nor do I find it to be a travesty. To find Kim and Kanye on the coveted cover of Vogue represents everything that people want for their own lives. To find yourself breaking through the clouds after tempest storms.
This will be the last time I will make mention of the following regarding these two. As a matter of fact No. Not even now will I speak or write it. Except to say that people use the past against you for two reasons. To either keep you from moving forward or because they can’t get out of the prison of their own past.
No one is going to cancel their subscription as a result of the KimYe cover. Vogue magazine has a very sophisticated audience with discriminating taste. If they cancel their subscription it won’t be because of one issue. Most of the people spewing those threats never had a subscription. And the issues they have purchased are finite. As a staunch business woman one thing that Anna Wintour executes well is a loyal following. Whatever she loses due to the KimYe cover (which I doubt because the copies are flying off of the shelves here in Miami FL ) she will make up for double in new subscribers…because of the KimYe cover. If nothing else in the publication business you MUST STAY CURRENT. And KIMYE is IT.
KANYE WEST BONDING WITH NORTH SKIN TO SKIN. KIM KARDASHIAN PRESERVING NORTH’S DIGNITY.
Kim Kardashian has become the leader of her own family empire. She takes pride in the Kardashian name. She and her family run a clothing and makeup line to include sun products. Their DASH boutiques are located in Miami, LA and NYC. Their more affordable line of clothing can be purchased at Sears. I have read many comments about the fact that she comes from money. This may be true. However there are many people who came from money. Their current financial status reflects they didn’t know what to do with it. You didn’t hear this from me but, Kim visits children in hospitals. She makes appearances to motivate young women. As well as advocates for special causes. Kim has made million dollar lemonade with her lemons.
For the past ten years Kanye West has been making and breaking records. He has won the most Grammy’s of any Hip Hop artist and managed to maintain the integrity of Soul and Rap music. At it’s inception Rap music was that of a story telling nature and is one of the few parts of our culture we have been able to preserve over centuries. His messages range from beautiful love stories, the heartbreak of lost loves, and families members to hysterically funny ways to move from a double-wide to a mansion. Kanye is one of the leading influences in modern style. He has made his everlasting mark on Nike, Louis Vuitton and Fendi. He has been fighting against the odds to launch his own fashion line. I have no doubt it will happen. Just keep swinging that M Cyrus sledge hammer Ye!!!
My hair grew back longer and thicker the summer of 75. It’s been fried dyed and laid to the side. I’ve worn almost every style I cared to. Today, I wear a two inch afro. And I love it. It’s very EN VOGUE. Don’t you think?
No one and I mean no one has been able to avoid life’s pitfalls or the consequences thereof. We have ALL had our share. There are no smooth paths on the road to your dreams. Whatever smooth path you find, surely life’s strategically placed sprinkle of water and oil will take care of that. But if you keep getting up you just might end up on the cover of Vogue.
I think I just heard a thud.
NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE FROM YOUR DREAMS ARE VALID.
There is nothing like that feeling when you wake up from your dreams and realize that the night before was not a dream at all. That must have been what it was like for the 31 year old, Yale graduate, Lupita Nyong’o, after winning Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress for her role as Patsey in the film Twelve Years a Slave at the Academy Awards last night. African American winners of this coveted award have been few and far between, however this neophyte actress beat out veteran nominees, Jennifer Lawrence, Sally Hawkins, Julia Roberts and June Squibb.
The only thing that exceeds Nyong’o’s stunning appearance is her talent. Sticking a needle in the bluest eye. It is my hope that she will set yet another example that anything is possible no matter how dark your skin tone. We as black woman need to see the beauty in how we represent every color of the proverbial rainbow.
Nyong’o is the eigth actress of African decent to win this category in eighty-six years.
There are so many stories to be told and told with integrity. Do not be afraid to follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you you are not pretty enough, small enough, busty enough, whatever enough. Just follow your dreams as you. BEAUTIFULLY YOU and that is enough.
YOU GOT TO HAVE A STORY- Portwood Williams
When I look at all the benefits, luxuries that I have enjoyed my entire life it’s hard to believe that I was born one generation away from not being able to sit anywhere I wanted on a bus, or enjoy a meal at a table in my favorite restaurant. I am a direct descendant of a civil rights pioneer who helped to make that lifestyle possible.
My earliest memories of my grandparents were when I was five years old Portwood Williams Sr. and Lucille Williams. I remember my grandparents spending my sixth birthday with me in El Paso, Texas. My grandfather got down on the floor with me and my friends and played jacks. He refused to give any kid and inch and beat us all. He then announced loudly and proudly to all of my friends and everyone in the house, “I AM THE MASTER!” He got real close all of our faces and said in almost a whisper. YOU GOT TO HAVE A STORY. This was his mantra.
My grandparents asked that we call them Chick and Buddy. (They weren’t going for the grandma, grandpa stuff.) My grandfather said that we can call him Buddy because he is our friend. We should call our grandmother Chick because she was his fine chick. And he was right. I can not EVER remember, as grandchildren, a time that we could’t have anything we needed and got most of what we wanted. When I think about the price they paid to be able to do that…
It wasn’t until I was nine that I realized how special my grandfather was. I met a very good friend of his by the name of Ms. Clara Luper. She gave me a book she had written entitled Behold the Walls. My grandfather flipped to the pages where he was introduced as the first driver to the civil rights Sit-ins at the Kats drug store in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At the age of nine I could not conceive what that took. Looking back, I marvel at the bravery.
My grandparents were married seventy-two years, raised four children, and enjoyed ten grandchildren. They lived to see several great-grandchildren as well as great-great grands. We all knew we were, and felt loved by them.
Black history is not only for remembering our history, but also reminds us not to take our future for granted. People gave and put their lives at risk breaking down walls that led to the smoother paths we enjoy today.
Mr. and Mrs. Williams raised four children, Klaye Portice and Shirley Ruth were the first blacks to perform on television in Oklahoma City. Portwood Williams Jr. graduated third in his class at Oklahoma University, and Dr. Donda West the first B lack Chair of the English department at Chicago State University who later became a momager for Kanye West.
Let us not get too comfortable because we still have many rivers to cross. There are still barriers that need to be broken. If you are someone who cares about your family and the future you must know this. Did Portwood Williams participate in the sit-ins so that he could have a legacy such as Kanye West? Hmmmm probably. But that is how we should all be thinking. Be aware of your history. THINK NOW AND FORWARD. Just like we as grandchildren were able to do the things we wanted, Portwood and Lucille as grandparents were able to do EVERYTHING they wanted.
It is apparent that everyone has a different path to make change. No matter how large or small the path, choose one. We are descendants of kings and queens. Mr. Portwood Williams was a trailblazer. He was a master. He was THE MASTER.
At it’s core Valentines Day is about not only celebrating love, but celebrating the right to love who you choose to love.
There are various stories about St Valentine and how Valentines day actually came about. But I guess the important thing to know is that people didn’t always have the right to love and marry the person of their choosing. People could, and were put to death for defying the edict in the name of war and religion.
There are four different Greek words for love,
Philia – Friendship
Eros – Physical
Agape – Unconditional
In my most humble opinion, a relationship would need all of these versions of love to work. I remember reading a book called The Conversation. The author Hill Harper mentions a woman who says that she just wants a man who won’t cheat. His response was that she was setting the bar pretty low. There is so much more to a relationship. I initially thought the whole interaction to be amusing. However, after some thought I came to the conclusion that in my past relationships that was usually the cause of the breakup. As far as I was concerned, for the most part, everything was great. The conversation was great, sincere emotional encouragement and support was satisfying. The sex…AMAZING. Overall my long term relationships have been happy for the exception of what…the cheating. The Agape was missing.
I am an avid follower of Kim and Kanye, Gabrielle and D. Wade, among others and I don’t miss any episodes of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Being Mary Jane or more recently Covert Affairs. Many people live vicariously though them , or not, via sound bites splattered on Facebook walls and little blue birds. When I see people in love. I look at them with great admiration. I know what it’s like to love someone. It’s not aways easy. It takes a special person to be able to really love someone and really receive love. I don’t care who you are, no matter how rich or how poor. No matter how dark or how light the hue. Love is all the same. When you toss it up we all want to be bathed in that rain.
A friend to talk to, confide in, who won’t laugh at your fears. That special person with whom you can share and build your hopes and dreams. Someone who understands and supports you. That one who is more concerned about what they are willing to give than get.
We never know what that looks like until it shows up in our lives.
We all need someone to love. We all need someone to love us beyond our faults, despite our imperfections and our past. Offering an open hand and heart of forgiveness. Healing is a life long process. Life happens daily. Sometimes when we fall down we need someone to pick us up. Help us pick up the pieces. The one who cares enough to look beyond the surface into the soul of what matters. See into our soul.
You smile give the sun permission to set,
Let’s make this a life we won’t forget
I trust my heart in your hands.
Heal me like no one else can
I saw you I fell hard
Loves get out of hell free card
I’ll take your joy I’ll take your sin
Lets go to a place no ones ever been
Let’s go now
Let’s go now
Let’s go now
Let’s go right now
Congratulations to everyone who has found love. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY
I am grateful to have had a mother. She wasn’t perfect. But I chose her. I don’t know why. I guess she was what I needed. I guess I just loved her.
Warning. I am about to go off of the reservation. Because when you lose a parent things are more real than any philosophy. I know I try to share my knowledge, myself, what I think are the answers, or not. Some of the things I’m going to say contradict the things that I would tell someone else. Trying to make the world, and my life make sense. Thirty-nine years was not enough. She was supposed to grow really old. She was supposed to…
December 25, 2005 I called my mother first thing in the morning to wish her Merry Christmas and have some “us” time. I was a time zone ahead but she never seemed to mind when I woke her. We discussed her plans for the day. As usual, she was going to my grandparents house for the day. My Eighty-nine year old grandmother was still cooking an entire Christmas meal mostly by herself. My eighty-nine year old grandfather entertaining in the front room with his infectious laugh and watching football. We hadn’t been talking for too long before my mother said that she hadn’t been feeling well. She said that it felt like her stomach was out of sorts. I asked her a lot of health questions (having been a medical social worker I knew a little something) such as was she short of breath, was her arm numb or in pain, dizziness etc. . She said no to all of the questions. She said that she just didn’t feel well. This may not alarm many of you but the thing is that my mother was hardly EVER ill. I don’t recall her ever having had a cold or the flu. I even asked her the question she used to ask me when I was a child. “Do you think you need to take a BM? Do you have to fart?” I told her to take some Alka-Seltzer and she did. After about another 20 minutes into the conversation she said that she felt better. We talked for a couple more hours before she had to get ready to meet up with the fam. I called my grandparents home later that day and spoke to everybody. That is what any MIA family member did when they were not able to make it for the holidays. My mother said that she felt much better and that she and her new Bo were having a good time.
The next day I went sale shopping with my girlfriend when I got the call from my brother. I knew to be alarmed because my brother NEVER calls me or anyone. He just doesn’t. He called to tell me that my mother had had a heart attack and she had been taken to the hospital at 4 am. I spoke to my aunt later that day who explained the details. My mother had been operating on only 20% heart capacity. She suffered from 80% blockage. Which explained the extreme fatigue, and upper body weight gain. Flu like symptoms.
My aunt later called me from her hospital room. We talked about the fact that she was having her first heart attack while we were on the phone that morning and neither of us knew it. We didn’t know that the symptoms in a woman were very different than that of a man having an attack. We didn’t know that post-menapausal women were at greater risk for hear attack. At least I didn’t know. If I had known I could have called an ambulance instead of telling her to take seltzer. None of the therapy has been enough to make me forget that moment. Nothing will be enough.
That past summer my mother and I were on the phone. For some reason I was begging her to help me with my writing. I had never done this before. I guess I was looking for some kind of bond or something. I really can’t explain it. She was a brilliant story teller. The best in the family I would say. For some reason she could not come up with anything. I felt like she wasn’t even trying. I got off of the phone disgruntled thinking she didn’t even want to help me. December 28, 2005. I called my mother. She said, “Kimmie, I have something for you. What do you think about this? Laughter is a smile set to music. ” I burst with joy. “Oh Mom that is so beautiful. How did you come up with that?” We talked for several minutes before she got tired and my aunt needed her phone back. I told her I loved her and that I would call her the next day. My mother said with surprise. “You will?” I thought that question was absurd. (I guess she was wondering why I wasn’t there. I had planned to take time off when she went home to recover. My brother could go back to work and I would be there for her for however long I could.) “Yea, I’m going to call you tomorrow.”
I fell asleep on the couch that night and right before waking I could hear my mother’s voice calling me. I called the hospital at 9 am. I spoke to the nurse who informed me my mother had another massive heart attack and they were currently making attempts to resuscitate her. I couldn’t hang up. The nurse spoke to me and gave me details of what was going on before she finally took my number and said she would call me back with additional information. I called my aunt and brother to tell them what had happened. I just couldn’t wait for the nurse to call me back. I called and she continued to give me the details. She finally said “They’re going to call time of death. I’m terribly sorry. Your mother was an amazing woman. ” I felt as if all of the breath and life my body could hold had been ripped from me. I just wanted to spontaneously evaporate.
It has been nine years since I lost my mother. I think that my Aunt Donda summed it up best. How could the one with the biggest heart be the one to die of a heart attack? So this is for all the mothers, daughters, grandmother’s, aunts. sisters and cousins. All the women. Please take care of yourself. You matter.
“Kimmie, I have something for you. What do you think about this? Laughter is a smile set to music. “
“Oh Mom that is so beautiful. How did you come up with that?”
Thanks Mom. I love you.