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“Civil Rights: Progression or Regression?”

by Wendy Gladney on 02/18/19

I was born of a white mother and a black father in 1961 in Southern California during a time when America was experiencing segregation across the nation.  Although many of us in California did not feel the same effects as many of our relatives in the South, segregation was still alive and well throughout the country. The Civil Rights Movement was in its beginning stages and the 50’s and 60’s were pivotal in changing the face and climate of America. The Civil Rights Movement was organized by African Americans with the goal to help end racial discrimination and provide equal rights to all under the law.

1954 – Brown v. Board of Education

1955 – Emmett Till was murdered.

1955 – Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.

1957 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a voice for change.  The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed.

1957 – The Civil Rights Act (to protect Voting Rights)

1960 – Sit-ins in North Carolina and the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed.

1961 – We hear about the Freedom Riders.

1963 – The March on Washington

1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964

1965 – Malcom X was assassinated.

1965 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965

1965 – The Race Riots in Watts, California

1966 – The Black Panthers were formed.

1968 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated.

1968 – The Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Housing)

These are just a few of the highlights that occurred regarding the efforts made by many to help eradicate discrimination towards African Americans (which ultimately would help all Americans).  There were many (black and white) people that sacrificed and gave of their time, talent and resources to help make this country an America for all.  The question today is: are we going backwards regarding the progress that was made just 50 years ago?  When I look at some of the very issues we are plagued with today, I feel like time has stood still.

Sometimes I think it is important to pause and reflect on the past so we can remember where we’ve come from. Looking back helps us to remember those who have sacrificed for the freedoms we all experience today.  As the granddaughter of Rebecca Ruth Reed Harris, first born free in our family (born at the turn of the century), I was raised with the daily reminders of a family that migrated from the South to California in the hopes of a better life.  She taught me to be proud of who I am and to always remember where I came from.  As I hope for the future, I can’t help but look back and say thank you to my ancestors (and others) who died so that I, and my children, can live in the hope of the dream for a better life. Thank you! #BlackHistoryMonth365

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

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

Are You Feeling Loved?

by Wendy Gladney on 02/11/19

When I think back as far as elementary school, I remember how exciting it was to go to the store and buy the packages of Valentine’s Day Cards. It was such a big deal to bring them home and write your name on the cards, along with the names of your classmates on each of the envelopes.  I found it interesting how there were usually just enough cards in the package to give one to each student in my class and a special one for the teacher. It was as if the card companies knew exactly how many children were in classrooms across America.  On Valentine’s Day we would have a little party that usually consisted of a heart-shaped cookie and punch, and we would go around and give each other our valentines.  If my memory serves me correctly, there always seemed to be that “special someone” you hoped would give you a card and if they didn’t your little heart would drop to the floor.

Well, truth be told, most grown people have the same hopes and desires to be remembered by that special someone on Valentine’s Day. We all search for love and sometimes even in all the wrong places. We look to others to validate us and make us feel good about ourselves because someone loves us.  Believe me when I say I am a sucker for love and even after being married and divorced, I haven’t given up on the hope of having true love and even getting married again one day. But what I’ve learned in all the searching (or hoping) is that we must start with loving ourselves. In the movie Jerry Maguire, there was a line that said, “You complete me.”  I believe that it’s not until we feel complete within ourselves that we can attract the right person who will come alongside and compliment us.

Recently a friend called to check on me and he asked how my grandson Grayson was doing.  I told him that he was growing and that on a regular basis he fills my little love tank.  He went on to say, “I bet he brings out love bones in you that you didn’t even know existed!” As I thought about that question it made me reflect on how true that statement really is. When we experience love that comes from a pure place, where the only thing that person wants is you, it fills you up in such a way that you never feel empty.  You feel appreciated and valued.  The look in their eyes makes you feel like you matter and it’s not about what you buy for them, but rather it’s about how safe and secure they feel with you.

Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” For me I know this to be true because even when you love someone or someone loves you, they may do or say some hurtful things, but at the end of the day those wounds can be healed by how they make you feel.  If they come back around and apologize (and they mean it) or if they are willing to sit down and talk things out to obtain a better understanding of what they did to hurt you, in the end you might not even remember what they said because you feel better. 

This Valentine’s Day if you celebrate with that special someone (or even if you just go out with the girls and have a “Galentine’s Day”), remember to be grateful for all the positive things that are in your life and all the loved ones that do care about you.  No matter what you may have gone through over the past year, or even over several years, remember that you are still in the fight and that to feel love, it’s as easy as just giving love! 

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

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

How Do We Build a Culture of Kindness, Forgiveness & Compassion?

by Wendy Gladney on 02/04/19

The current presidential administration constantly uses the phrase, “Make America Great Again” or MAGA.   Some would question if America was ever great, and many would argue that it is no better today than it was before.  If we look back through history, every generation has had issues they’ve dealt with specific to the times; so why should we be any different?  I am proud to be an American born during this time, but even in my lifetime I feel like in some ways we’ve gone backwards.  Hate crimes have escalated to an all-time high and we must act verses just react if we want to see things improve.

The question I ponder is how do we build a culture of kindness, forgiveness and compassion?  What has happened to humanity where the simple acts of kindness, showing respect and common courtesies have gone out the window?  It seems like every time we turn on the news or read the paper we learn about another mean act or hate crime towards someone based on his or her race, gender or sexual orientation. Recently we learned that actor and singer Jussie Smollett was a victim of a hate crime and was attacked in Chicago for being a gay black male. It was also stated that his attackers placed a rope around his neck. Since the occurrence of this heinous act, there has been a big outpouring of love from people everywhere showing solidarity with him during his time of healing. 

As people share their concern about what happened to Jussie, a central theme that continues to pop up is that hate won’t win.  Kevin Hart said, “why are we falling in love with hate?” He urged all of us to choose love and that he would continue to teach his kids how to do the same. For years I have spoken and written about the power of forgiveness and how it can change our lives forever.  I believe this now more than ever. I found Kevin Hart’s statement to be so profound and believe that no matter what life brings, eventually the pendulum of justice always swings back to love.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too big a burden to bear.”

If hate costs too much, then what are we willing to pay to show love?  I believe in the power of one and if each of us makes it our business to make a difference, it can get better. I was recently talking to a friend of mine (who happens to be African American) and he was sharing that whenever he gets a chance, he likes to dispel myths, especially when they are centered around race or gender. We live in a world where people’s opinion or actions are often based on prejudice or pre-judged situations that have no real validity. All of us have some level of prejudice, but are we willing to make the necessary adjustments to make our world a better place?

Showing kindness, forgiveness and compassion is a choice. Every day we all can chose to be kind or to be mean.  We can forgive those who have offended us or not, and we can show compassion towards those that really need a little love. Ultimately it is our choice.  We don’t know what others may be going through or experiencing when they behave the way they do.  All of us fall short and that’s why all of us stand in need of grace and mercy.  Are you willing to take the first step? To help with the healing that must take place if we want to live in a world of peace? Let’s leave this world a better place than it was before we were here. MEGA. “Make Earth Great Again.”

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

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

Who Are You Mentoring?

by Wendy Gladney on 01/28/19

January is National Mentoring Month.  It was established in 2002 as a campaign to promote youth mentoring, but mentoring should not be limited to just the youth. It is something we should practice throughout our entire lifetime.  Twenty years ago, I started an organization called, Forgiving For Living, Inc., where we mentor and pour into the lives of girls between the ages of 12 – 17.  We provide them with skills that can help them make positive choices for their lives. Of course, we are not the only organization doing such good work and there are many national and local organizations whose mission is to sow into the lives of youth on a regular basis, but individuals from all walks of life and at every age could benefit from a good mentor.

As a youth I didn’t really understand the importance of having a mentor or what a good mentor looked like. I remember seeing people that I looked up to, or possibly even idolized, because of the way they carried themselves or because of the things they accomplished, but I didn’t label them as a mentor.  Mentors have the power to influence our lives in such a way that can have positive or negative outcomes. Therefore, we must understand how important it is to be careful who we allow into this space.  We must also be mindful of this when we are the mentors. We never know when someone may be watching us from afar and we end up serving as a mentor without our knowing.   

Let’s not forget, all of us are standing on the shoulders of those that came before us.  We owe it to others to provide guidance in any way possible. I’ve heard some people say they don’t want the responsibility of being a mentor because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.  Shame on you!  We all have something we can share and give to someone else.  Being a mentor is a privilege and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  It doesn’t even have to take a lot of work or time.  Yes, it will take a little bit of your time, but what is really needed is a little willingness, patience, kindness and compassion.  I believe we can all give just a little bit of what is needed. The question is, who are you throwing the ladder down or across to?

Approximately five years ago, Barbara Perkins wrote a book called, “The Magic of Mentoring:  Pearls of Wisdom,” and she asked me to submit a chapter and share my opinion. As I sat down to write this piece, I pulled out her book and reflected on my previous thoughts.  What I wrote back then and what I am sharing here today still line up with my core belief that it is important for us to share pearls of wisdom that we have gathered along life’s journey.  Over the years I’ve tried to string together knowledge and information that I felt would be valuable in helping others.  Of course, Barbara, who has mentored many along her journey, couldn’t stop with just one book on mentoring; she has just released another book with more pearls of wisdom. Thank you, Barbara!

The Bible shares three different people that, in my opinion, wrap up nicely the circle of mentorship.  Paul, Timothy and Barnabas. Paul was a teacher, Timothy was a student and Barnabas was an encourager.  All of us should have a Paul, Timothy and Barnabas in our lives and we should also be a Paul, Timothy and a Barnabas in at least one person’s life.  Who are you mentoring today?

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

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

And Still I Rise

by Wendy Gladney on 01/21/19

The news and media continue to unveil more and more stories about different levels of sexual abuse, sex trafficking and or harassment towards women and girls almost daily. Although we know this behavior has existed since the beginning of time, it is time the covers are thrown off and the truth be exposed.  I am sensitive to these stories because as a survivor, my heart breaks whenever I hear them and I understand how these women must feel.  Women and girls who’ve experienced any type of abuse or domestic violence struggle with self-esteem issues and it oftentimes influences their psyche and future choices.  It is a process for us to dig ourselves out and understand that we still can rise. 

Recently, Lifetime released the “Surviving R. Kelly” series.  Because of the work I do with helping build the lives and self-worth of at-risk girls, some of my friends and colleagues asked me if I saw the series.  At the time, I hadn’t so I decided I should at least look at it to see what was being said.  As I watched the first episode, my spirit was troubled that such a thing was happening in plain sight.  This is a man that refers to himself as the pied piper and yes, he lures people (including minors) with his music.  Most of us at one point in time have enjoyed his songs and we’ve even played them at weddings and family gatherings, but once the light bulb comes on, we must decide if we are going to stay in the dark or walk in the light.  When we don’t act, it allows for acts of violence against women (and people in general) to continue.  I am a proponent of giving people the benefit of the doubt, but when the truth comes to the surface, we are all held accountable for our actions. 

Currently, a big story in the news is about Cyntonia Brown who was granted clemency after serving 15 years in prison for killing a man who bought her for sex.  When Ms. Brown committed her crime, she was 16 years old and a minor fearing for her life.  She has now spent almost the same amount of time in prison as the she was when she was arrested.  Some have said she was a teenage prostitute.  I read somewhere that is an oxymoron.  For a girl underage to daily put herself out on the street for sale and to be repeatedly raped and then give the money to someone else is not a choice. Somewhere lurking is an adult pulling the strings. Everyday women and girls (and boys) are being sold and or forced into a life of sexual violence beyond their control and consent.  If they try to get out or escape, they fear for their lives. Statistics share that it usually takes a person 7 tries to leave their abusers before they are successful. 

The case of Cyntonia Brown being granted an act of mercy is encouraging to everyone who has ever experienced injustice in similar situations. Over the years many have fought on her behalf, encouraged her, stood for her and never gave up on her case.  But there are so many who’s voices remain silent and they have no one fighting the good fight for them. They feel lost and alone.  Those of us that can stand up and help and make a difference must do so.  One such organization here in Southern California is Forgotten Children led by Tera Hilliard.  If you can’t personally do something to make a difference, then support those that are on the front lines every day. Cyntonia Brown said, “I learned that my life was - and is – not over.”  She also said, “I can (and will) create opportunities where I can (and will) actually help people.” Her tenacity and belief in herself to never give up is an example of…and still I rise!

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

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com.