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When Will America Get The Picture?

by Wendy Gladney on 08/19/19

Toni Morrison said, “In this country American means white.  Everybody else has to hyphenate.”  I started to think about this saying, and I wanted to try and really process its meaning. I am the product of a biracial union.  I was born in the 1960’s when segregation was still pretty much the law of the land and Black people were thought to be inferior.  Ironically, in 2019, some people still think of Black people as inferior -- even though laws have been passed to say differently. We’ve even had the first Black President in the White House (can we come up with another name for this house), but racism is still strong and alive. I am proud of my entire heritage (a Black father and a White mother), but I know in America I am a Black woman and that’s okay with me; however, when I think of other countries, individuals are often thought of as their nationality first, despite having different cultures and ethnicities. When will America get that picture?

When I think of what is happening today, it hurts my heart and my spirit.  I’ve heard people ask, “Why is there a need for an organization like, Black Lives Matter? Isn’t that racist?”  No, it isn’t.  Not with the rise in hate groups, especially white supremacists who target Black people, Hispanics/Latinos, Immigrants and anyone that is different from them (and they feel it is okay because of the rhetoric that comes out of the highest office in this country).  They feel protected and safe. When will all Americans feel protected and safe? There needs to be accountability across the board. Before we will see any real progress in this country, we must learn how to be kind to one another and show mutual respect. 

To understand race relations in America we would have to go back 400 years.  The thread that binds us as a country is ripped all the way through the soul of America. Although some people may disagree, there’s a difference between Black Pride and white supremacy.  One focuses on making sure the lives of Black people are respected and not thrown away while the other focuses on hate and destruction.  What must we do to get to a place where we are not so mean with each other?  How do we get to the table of brotherly love and focus more on what we have in common than what makes us different?

I am sick and tired of hearing or reading about another shooting, mass killing, racial profiling or other race related incidents. Police brutality, shootings like El Paso, Texas, and the likes must stop.  If we want hope for our children and grandchildren, we must each become a party of one and stand up for what is right even when it is difficult.  We must be willing to sacrifice and support efforts to bring healing.  I believe forgiveness is a critical component to this process.  We must put an end to hate crimes.  A hate crime is described as a bias-motivated crime and usually involves some level of prejudice. All of us hold some level of bias (or prejudice), but when we allow it to cause harm to another human being this is not acceptable.

What challenge are you willing to pick up to help eradicate this situation?  Are you willing to not participate in any disparaging conversations about other people just because they are different in any way?  Are you willing to even challenge your friends and family members when they share racial jokes that could be hurtful? We must all be willing to de-escalate situations on all sides, no matter how big or small.  It starts with us.  As I told my children growing up, wrong is wrong even if everybody is doing it and right is right even if nobody is doing it.

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker. 

Homecoming!

by Wendy Gladney on 08/12/19

This past week I had the opportunity to go to my paternal side of the family’s “Homecoming” down in East Texas.  My father, Johnny Wendell Dolphus Harris’ father, my grandfather, Booker Telefaro Washington Harris was born in an area known as Shady Grove, Gary Tap, Texas right outside of Carthage and not too far from Shreveport, Louisiana.  For at least sixty-two years, this town, which is made up of almost all kin, annually opens wide their doors and welcomes friends and family from near and far to come home and revisit their roots. My grandfather passed away before I was born, but my grandmother, Rebecca Ruth Reed Harris made sure we would be included. I remember as a child packing up the car in California and heading to Texas. And I discovered at a young age that Texas has a spirit unique unto itself. Texans are one of a kind.

Family and family history mean a lot to me and over the years I’ve had the opportunity to go “home” a few times.  A few years ago, I was able to take my daughter, Courtney to the Homecoming so that she could begin to put the pieces together from all the verbal conversations we’ve had over the years of who’s who and how we are all related.  One of the things that always confused me was when someone would say to me that I was “double related” to someone, but eventually it became clear when I could put names and faces together and sit down with pen and paper and connect the dots.  For example, my grandmother and her sister, Aunt LeAnna, married two cousins.  My grandmother’s husband was Booker T. and Aunt LeAnna’s husband was Uncle Eli.  Eli and Booker are cousins therefore their offspring are double related.  With the community being relatively small, many of the families ended up inter-marrying.

As time progresses, the surnames of the families continue to grow.  Originally the names I always heard about were Harris, Calloway, Champion, Flakes, Ingram, Lilly, Byrd, Beasley and Bryant. Now we also have McLemore, Womack, Sanders, Hawkins, Johnson, Morris, Smith, Roberson, Solomon and McDaniel. I’m sure there are even more as our branches continue to sprout from the roots.  As our branches continue to stretch wide and across the globe, it is important for us to all pause every now and then and come together first to honor our ancestors and to make sure the new generations don’t forget their history.  I have to say there’s also nothing like the down-home cooking that comes straight from the land and is seasoned with love and patience. 

In the words of the late Toni Morrison, from her book Beloved, “Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.”  This is exactly what it looks like to bring family together.  There were so many different conversations that went on and oral family history tradition was in full bloom.  I’ve learned as the years go by truths can be twisted and turned and if we are not careful a legend can be based more on hearsay, half-truths, and assumptions.  It’s up to each of us to seek the truth, write it down and if you are not sure of something, as my grandmother would say, be quiet.  It’s important to try and keep the record straight.

As I reflect on my time down in Texas my heart is full of joy because this particular year was extra special. A new member to our family, who was originally adopted close to 57 years ago, recently found out he was my first cousin and was able to go home and learn a little more about his roots.  Welcome Home Gilbert!  

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker. 

Women of all Ages Celebrate the Life & Times of Biddy Mason

by Wendy Gladney on 08/06/19

It is incumbent on us all to keep the life and legacy of our heroes and sheroes alive.  If we desire for the next generation to know and embrace the history of their forefathers (and foremothers) the buck stops with us.  We have such a lady that Americans should be aware of, and especially Southern Californians, and her name is Biddy Mason.  Women from different generations will gather on August 10th to pay homage to the woman that was born a slave in Mississippi, became a freed woman in California, and made history along her journey. Biddy Mason’s roots run deep throughout what is now downtown Los Angeles.

Ms. Mason was brought to California by the Mormons as a slave and she originally resided in the San Bernardino area before settling in Los Angeles.  She is credited with many talents including being a nurse, as well as a real estate investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She also founded the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church in her home. This woman was a pioneer who believed in making a difference and leaving a legacy behind that showed her footprint. Making sure our next generation of millennials are aware of this amazing woman and the contributions she made to society, Diane Mitchell Henry, founder of The Women’s Group of Greater Los Angeles County (WGGLAC),  the Honorable Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton, the Honorable Jan Perry (Retired) along with the Cynthia Perry Ray Foundation, will celebrate the 5th Annual Biddy Mason Legacy Gathering by also honoring young millennial women for the contributions they are making in our society and community today.

WGGLAC believes that many of today’s millennials mirror the character of Biddy Mason through their ambition and confidence, and they are unafraid to question authority while serving their community. They have a new form of social activism.  Just as they must honor those that came before them, we must support and encourage them as they move forward in the world.   Biddy Mason was just 30 years old when she made her historic 2,000 mile walk from Mississippi to California. She invested her mid-wife earnings in downtown Los Angeles real estate and became the first wealthiest Black American woman in Los Angeles. Ms. Mason advocated for the poor and the incarcerated population – two groups still underrepresented today. What could our young people do if they knew we had their back to help improve the world?

Diane Mitchell Henry, Founder of WGGLAC says,The Celebration is a platform to pay homage to the legacy of Biddy Mason by honoring millennial unsung sheroes and empower them to embrace Biddy Mason’s perseverance.  As the founder of Forgiving For Living, Inc., an organization formed to empower young ladies with positive self-esteem and to provide them with the tools to believe in themselves, I too believe that it is important for us to teach our young ladies their value and that they have a powerful voice that can turn into action that brings about change.

Biddy Mason once said, “If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in.   The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.”  We need to open our hands and take the hand of a young lady that is coming up behind us and not only show her the way, but also stand beside her on her journey.  We must sow into the lives of the next generation and empower them with the tools they need to succeed. It begins with us.  

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker. 

The Hell of Homelessness in the City of Angels

by Wendy Gladney on 07/30/19

Homelessness is a serious challenge everywhere we look.  According to the California Homelessness Statistics as of January 2018, there was an estimated 130,000 people experiencing homelessness throughout Southern California.  The homeless in Los Angeles County hovers around 59,000 people and it is reported that in Los Angeles County homelessness has spiked 12 percent since last year (and 16 percent in the City of Los Angeles).  There are many reasons that lead to the rise in homelessness, such as mental illness, housing costs, and the lack of jobs, to name just a few. Many people are just one paycheck away from being on the streets, or what is known as “couch surfing.” Both are forms of homelessness.

The Bible says that the poor will be with you always, but does that mean we have to accept it? There are people, institutions and organizations that are trying to do their part. But the situation still seems to be getting worse. In 2017 Measure H was passed to help raise money for this effort and much of the money raised has already gone into programs, but there is still more needed. The question is with all the money that has been raised from different avenues why are things getting worse and not better?  When I shared my concerns with one of my friends, he asked if we should focus on helping “the” homeless or “a” homeless person, one at a time?  My answer is let’s try and help both.

I think it is important for us to be concerned about the homeless problem as a whole, but I also think that for the majority of us we have to approach it like we do anything else that is monumental in our lives; one step or one person at a time.  We can donate money to legitimate organizations that we know are doing the work, but there’s more we can do individually.  One of my dear colleagues, Kandee Lewis, Executive Director of The Positive Results Corporation (PRC) is making sure her organization is hands-on in the community to do their part in providing services to the community and the homeless.

The mission of the Positive Results Corporation (PRC) is to address the trauma, violence and abuse people experience. Their goal is to create healthy relationships. They are committed to help reduce violence in our homes and communities and teach people to make positive decisions about their lives. They are currently working with homeless youth and adults by providing workshops that are geared towards facilitating hope, health and healing for those that are vulnerable.  They address poverty, conflict, trauma, community and family violence, gang and gun violence, dating, domestic or intimate partner violence, sexual assault and other things that contribute to low self-esteem, self-harm, violence and apathy. 

Recently Ms. Lewis asked me if I would be willing to come and teach the importance of forgiveness within the people they serve. I was honored to support the work she is so committed to.  One may ask why would people that are or have been homeless care about forgiveness?  Forgiveness is a crucial step and tool for anyone to overcome issues in their life whether it is self-forgiveness or the need to forgive others to heal and move forward with their lives.  Homelessness is living a life of hell on earth and we must become the angels that can help them improve their lives.  Be careful not to judge because you never know what could happen to you, such as an illness, medical bills, loss of a job, the death of a loved one or a host of several other factors that could cause you to be in their shoes. #HelpEndHomelessness

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker. 

Are Racism and Hate Crimes on the Rise?

by Wendy Gladney on 07/21/19

Lately I’ve been wondering if racism and hate crimes, or speech, are increasing or if they have always been there, just lying dormant. We know there’s always been hate, racism and acts of ugliness; however, I feel it has gotten worse. I thought there was a time when race relations had improved, but some people have justified in their own minds that they can say whatever they want, do whatever they want and act whatever way they want without any thought to the consequences.

Over the years many have sacrificed (on all sides) to make America a better place to live for all its citizens.  We were even known as a nation that cared about its people. Now a man feels like he has the right to walk up to someone sitting in their car and slit their throat and murder them just because they don’t like the music they are playing and because he says the music makes him feel threatened. #JusticeforElijah.  We also live in a time when the person who holds the seat of the highest office in this country feels comfortable demeaning women of color that are elected officials and citizens of the United States (and three of them were actually born in the U.S.) by making racist attacks and comments towards them.

What I find amazing is the resilience of people and how when people want to make a difference and stand for what is just and for what is right, they know exactly what to say and what to do at the right time to extinguish hate.  Recently when Trump supporters chanted hateful remarks towards Representative Omar (due to the statements made by Trump) she responded back by reciting Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still I Rise.” This reminds me of the 1960’s when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) taught the students who participated in the Sit-in Movement to show strength by practicing self-control when they were being spit on, beat and degraded.  Being the bigger person is not for the faint of heart.

A hate crime is referred to as a bias-motivated crime that is usually rooted in some sort of prejudice towards a person or group of people.  These crimes and bias transcend across color lines, sex, ethnicity, nationality, gender and religion. These actions are carried out in both violent and non-violent ways. Why are these actions and crimes increasing?  Why do they oftentimes fall under the radar or experience very little consequences?  Racism and hate crimes are being carried out at every level - federal, state and local.  Although we think big we must act small.  Start wherever we are planted in our own backyards to try and make a difference on how we view people that are not like us.

Because of the mantra I live by every day, I believe healing without hate is a choice and a lifestyle that we choose on purpose every day. I have to believe that no matter how much hate may be in the atmosphere love trumps hate every day.  Yes, people will have biases and some will choose to express themselves through matters of hatred through their speech and actions, but those of us that care about mankind and the uplifting of all mankind can’t give up on this journey for justice. #Sisepuede

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com, www.SeasonofGreatness.com  and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, author and speaker.