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What Does Black History Month Mean to You?

by Wendy Gladney on 02/18/20

Morgan Freeman said, “I don’t want a Black History Month.  Black history is American history.” I understand what he is saying.  We should be celebrating the history of Black people, as well as others, 365 days of the year.  The problem is this hasn’t happened and that’s why it is still important for us to set aside time to pause and pay tribute to the accomplishments of our ancestors and the contributions they made to this country to help make it what it is today. 

Recently, Our Authors Study Club, Inc. (OASC), the Los Angeles Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc. (ASALH), celebrated 75 years of Black History in downtown Los Angeles at the Music Center.  The work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, and Vassie D. Wright, the Founder of OASC in Los Angeles, is invaluable.  Dr. Woodson’s dream was for ASALH to track and keep sociological and historical data and to promote the study of African American life and history.  If Dr. Woodson desired to make sure we are aware of our history on a macro level, Mrs. Wright brought it home on a local area here in Los Angeles.  It was her goal for us to study the biography of African American authors, reviewing their books, and learning the true history of African people from around the Diaspora.

Entities such as ASALH and OASC are so critical because the history, achievements and contributions of African Americans (and other minorities) have not always been accurately included in the telling of American history.  We were not writing the books most of us were made to read growing up.  If we don’t make sure we tell our stories they most often will not be told or documented.  The problem still exists today.  This is the reason why it is still important for us to keep the Black Press and Media.  Just this month the Black News Channel premiered with the goal to provide 24-hour news to fill a void in representation. 

It is my opinion and experience that historically, society promoted one race over another as being better, superior or right, which stimulates racism.  This is reflected in the history we learn.  It is said that history belongs to the one who writes it (and the last ones standing).  We must stop that.  We must be willing to learn from each other and respect the contributions that all communities and individuals have offered to help make up the fabric of American history. Let’s be Americans who value and respect the contributions of all its citizens.  I am proud of the contributions my ancestors have provided to help make this country what it is today.  Let’s not minimize anyone based on the color of their skin, culture or ethnicity. 

This month when Joaquin Phoenix received his Oscar, he quoted something his brother River wrote, “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”  In his speech he also shared some of the areas where he fell short, but that he was grateful for a second chance.  He went on to say that he felt we are all at our best when we support each other.  Not when we cancel each other out, but when we help each other to grow, when we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption.  That is the best of humanity. Let’s take some lessons from his words. There is so much we can learn from each other; and when we show love (and I will add respect), truth and healing can and will take place. 

What does Black History Month mean to you?

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

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

All We Need Is Love

by Wendy Gladney on 02/10/20

In 1967 the Beatles released a song called, “All You Need is Love.”  Written by John Lennon, the essence of the song is that to accomplish or have anything in life, all you need is love.  How true is that?  Of course, we know, depending on what you are trying to do, you may need more than love alone. However, with all the problems we face today, if we showed just a little more love towards one another, the world would arguably be a better place. It is my opinion that love could serve as a bridge to healing in our families, our communities, and the world at large -- if only we are willing to give it and accept it.

There’s been much written about the power of love.  The Bible says in I Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Life has taught me that there are a lot of hurting people in the world today that just need a little love.  It amazes me how many people feel like they’ve never experienced true love.  Love can be a many splendid thing. There are different types of love; of which Eros, Philia and Agape are just three discussed.  Let’s explore each of them and how they touch our lives.

Eros (Greek god of love) is where we get the word “erotic” and is the type of love associated with sex or physical desire. It tends to be a love one yearns for yet can be fickle as it is based mainly on emotions and emotions can change with the wind.  Eros is the type of love we long for and when we experience it, it can be satisfying, but eventually becomes fleeting. Nevertheless, man continues to run toward this kind of love.

Philia is known as brotherly love (it is the root for our American city Philadelphia). This is considered the most sincere and platonic love of them all.  This is usually what we associate with how we love our friends and family. This type of love often grows out of shared values and when the love is reciprocated.  To experience this type of love can be very satisfying and has the chance of lasting throughout a lifetime. 

Agape is considered the most cherished because it is based on selfless love and with a love for humanity.  It is based on unconditional love.  To give without any expectations in return.  This type of love embraces compassion and shows sympathy towards others even when we don’t know them.  This is the type of love we experience when there’s a tragedy such as 9-11 or even something more recent such as the helicopter crash killing nine individuals on Sunday, September 26, 2020.  This is the type of love the world needs more of right now.

Love is powerful.  It gives people hope and a reason to live.  Now more than ever we need love, especially Agape love, to get through these tumultuous times and to help heal divisions not only in our country, but across the world. This Valentine’s Day let’s extend Philia and Agape love to our family, friends and neighbors.  Extend your hand to someone in need, lend your ear when someone just needs to be heard, and let’s try to be genuinely neighborly to those who are lost and hurting. 

Maya Angelou once said, “I know for sure that love saves me and that it is here to save us all.” We all have the capability to spread a little more love even to the unlovely.  Who knows… someone may consider you to be one of the unlovable.  Remember, all we need is love.

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

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

Our Black Mamba

by Wendy Gladney on 02/03/20

On Sunday, January 26th we all felt the devastation when Kobe Bryant, his daughter GiGi and seven other passengers went down in a horrific helicopter crash.  When I received the news, I couldn’t believe it; it was so surreal. Over time as the reality began to sink in, I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around how a man who was only 41 years of age and so full of life could be gone in just the blink of an eye.  My daughter and I were talking, and she said, “Mom, death does not discriminate.”  This gave me pause to reflect on my own life. I want to make sure I truly live my life to the fullest, living out the purpose I know God has for me.

Kobe Bryant was known as the “Black Mamba.” I had no idea what this meant or where it came from and then I learned it came from the movie, Kill Bill. The Black Mamba is considered the deadliest snake in the world. After the sexual assault allegations back in 2003, Kobe adopted the nickname/alter ego, Black Mamba, as a way of coping with the ordeal that almost derailed his career as a superstar in the NBA.  He used the term “Mamba mentality” to remind everyone of the constant effort needed to be the best version of oneself.  He’s even been quoted saying, “I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.” What is your coping mechanism when you need to be encouraged?  We all need one. 

To fulfill part of his vision, Kobe started working with the Mamba Sports Academy that was founded in 2018 with Chad Faulkner. His daughter Gianna (GiGi), who was also killed in that crash, trained there.   Mamba Sports Academy is a full-circle facility designed to update the way men, women and youth approach human performance and help them unlock their full potential.  After Kobe retired from the NBA in 2016, he became a leading advocate to help build women’s college basketball and the WNBA -- and we all believe it had a lot to do with being the father of four beautiful and talented daughters.  In a tribute to Kobe, Michael Jordan stated that the Los Angeles Lakers icon "took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball." His support will be missed, but not forgotten.  He made a difference!

As we all continue to mourn the death of these nine individuals, what can we learn from this devastation as we move forward with our lives? I recently read and watched something Shaq shared on Twitter.  “I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while…it definitely changes me.  I’m going to do a better job of reaching out and talking to people instead of procrastinating because you never know.”  We live in a time where everyone is so busy.  We all need to slow down a bit and take the time to show more love, compassion and kindness to others, especially our loved ones. We all need love, forgiveness and attention.  Why not start today!

Kobe believed, “the most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do." I never met Kobe, but remembering  my son Freddie sharing with me that he had a chance to “kick-it” and workout with him when he was a student at UC Irvine (and how he was motivated from that experience) and my daughter Courtney being a long-time Laker and Kobe fan, made this tragedy touch me in a personal way.  Watching how the world is also responding is proof that he inspired people to be great at whatever they wanted to do.  Remember, we all have the power to make a difference and inspire others.

I would like to close this message with the words of Kobe himself, “What can I say? Mamba Out.”

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

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

Sex Trafficking Must Stop!

by Wendy Gladney on 01/27/20

Sex Trafficking is considered a modern-day form of forced labor or slavery. Slavery is a travesty no matter the age, but even more devastating for young children. Statistics state that a child is trafficked every 26 seconds.  The average age a child is trafficked in the United States is between 12-14.  This is the very age of the girls we serve in our Forgiving For Living, Inc., Ambassador Program. During the month of January, a spotlight is being pointed on the epidemic of Sex Trafficking in America.  Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco have been claimed by the FBI as cities that have a high rate of trafficking in California. We must ask ourselves: are we willing to do something… anything to help change this situation?

The nonprofit organization Forgotten Children, Inc., under the leadership of Tera Hilliard, President and CEO, is committed to making a difference. Forgotten Children, Inc. (FCI) is a 501c (3) organization that fights the victimization of women and girls through an anti-human trafficking campaign. They provide outreach, education, and housing for victims of human trafficking. They also provide intervention classes and resources to women who have been arrested or sexually exploited. They believe the greatest weapon to fight against human trafficking is education and awareness. To educate the public and increase awareness, they provide prevention education to schools, churches and the community as well as resource/support for law enforcement.  

FCI’s mission is to rescue, restore, educate and bring hope to victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.  Their vision is to empower and equip individuals, families and communities by breaking the cycle of sexual exploitation through partnerships and community awareness. All of us have a role in making sure this atrocity of putting our children into sex slavery comes to an end.  When we look at the average age of these children being pulled in, we need to ask ourselves what can we do?  First, we need to be accountable and know where our children are at that age.  Be present.  Second, if we see something that doesn’t look right, say something.  We can’t stay silent if we see any suspicious activity.  Third, if a young person or anyone says they are hurting or need help, be willing to do whatever we can.

As we venture into a new year and a new decade, who would have ever thought we would still be fighting a problem as basic as ending slavery?  Any form of slavery.  Sex trafficking is a violation to everyone’s basic human rights.  We must care about others.  Helen Keller said, “I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” We must be willing to be a party of one and make a difference where we live, where we work and wherever we go. 

People that are caught up in any form of sex trafficking or slave labor are victims against their own will.  They are either forced into it against their will or they get caught up in something that they had no idea would lead them down a road to that destination. One of the greatest gifts we could share with someone who may be hurting is to show compassion and kindness and not judgment.  If you think someone might be in trouble and you don’t know what to do, then reach out to someone or an organization that would know what to do.  If you don’t know where to begin, try contacting www.forgottenchildreninc.org.

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

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

A Drop of Blood

by Wendy Gladney on 01/20/20

African Americans have long been familiar with the “one-drop rule.”  It is a social and legal principle that determined if you have one drop of Black (African) blood you are considered Black.  Although it is said that the one-drop rule is defunct in law in the United States, we know it is still an unspoken rule.  I am of mixed heritage; my mother is white, and my father is Black. Although I am technically equally Black and white; I have always been told that I am a Black Woman.  I am proud of my entire heritage, but being raised primarily by my paternal grandmother, who was a strong and proud Black woman, I feel comfortable being known as a Black woman (or woman of color).

As the grandmother of two beautiful grandchildren that have parents from different ethnicities and cultures (my son married a beautiful woman of European ancestry), I know that they too will one day face the world about who they are and how they associate themselves in the realm of identity.  What I find interesting is that no matter what one may think of themselves, there’s also the factor of how the world will see you. If they encounter law enforcement and other legal entities, they will have to be mindful of what it means to be Black in America.

There was a time in history, due to an overwhelming level of racism, some African Americans (especially those in the entertainment field or veterans returning from war) moved to Europe, especially France because it was believed they would be treated better there.  Although this may have been true for some it is not a blanketed response or situation for all.  I think it has always been true that there are those that enjoy “fraternizing” with us as long as we don’t marry into their families.  We are accepted if we can add some level of comfort, joy or financial gain; but please do not marry our children.

Well, I think this truth has come to light in what started out as a fairytale wedding between a Prince and a beautiful woman of mixed heritage from America.  Recently Meghan, Duchess of Sussex who became a member of the British royal family and her husband Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex made an announcement that they have decided to step down as senior royals.  It is assumed it is due to the fact they feel ostracized by the royal family and they feel it would be best for them to carve out a new role for themselves (and create a new future for their child).  A friend of the couple said, “There is so much bad blood in that family – it’s toxic.” 

It has been reported that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have had to endure a lot within his family and the British newspapers.  It is believed this is due to the fact that Meghan is an African American.  This makes the couple’s son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, a little boy who also has a “drop” of African American blood.  I believe that Harry loves his wife and son dearly and is willing to do whatever he feels necessary to protect them and honor everything they represent.  It has been said that the media in Britain has not been kind to Meghan. For different reasons, they also hassled Harry’s mother; leading to her untimely death.  When we will get to a place when people are truly valued for who they are and their character verses the color of their skin? Something to think about, no matter where any of us may originate from and no matter the color of our skin, the blood that runs through all of us is red.

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

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