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United and Free...Really?

by Wendy Gladney on 06/29/20

As a country, Americans love celebrating the 4th of July. The colors red, white, and blue are posted everywhere as flags are raised high commemorating the Declaration of Independence dating back to 1776. The celebration declared that the original thirteen American colonies were no longer subordinate to the monarch of Britain.  This victory proclaimed them as united and free. Unfortunately, almost 244 years later, people of color are still treated as “subordinate” in America and chasing the dream to become united and free.  The pain of this reality runs deep because America was built on the backs of our ancestors who were brought to this country as slaves and were not seen as human.

This year, both the devastation of COVID-19 and the orders to shelter in place will challenge how Americans will celebrate the 4th of July.  The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the long list of many others who have been murdered by law enforcement have caused an uprising by people from all walks of life demanding justice.  What are we doing to create an atmosphere that will make all Americans feel united and free?  What will it take to bring justice? How will future generations look back at this time and judge America for its actions?

The Atlantic Slave Trade began in 1619.  Enslaved Africans were brought across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. Last year I had the opportunity to visit Ghana and I walked the grounds of the castle that held our ancestors captive before they boarded the ships across the middle passage. I also had the chance to put my feet in the very water that is called the “Last Bath” where they took their last bath before heading to a foreign land.  To experience this firsthand had an impact on me that will stay with me for the rest of my life. The blood of my paternal ancestors runs just as deep her in America as it does in Africa. They paid the price with their blood, sweat, tears and life.

I am the great-granddaughter of a slave.  I am also the great-granddaughter of an immigrant from Germany.  Both sides of my family came to this county under different circumstances, but nonetheless I am their legacy.  My parents were born in this country and I was born in this country. I am proud to be an American and I believe that America has the potential to live up to its ideals and the time is now.  We believe in democracy where power comes from the people.  We believe in equality of rights and liberty for all.  I want these values to be available to my children, grandchildren, and my future generations.

Like most people, I strive for the American dream.  I desire to achieve success and upward mobility for the security of my family and to help others. But will I be limited because of the color of my skin? This opportunity should be available to everyone no matter what their race, creed, or color. Let us start now and work hard to put the necessary principles in place.  Let us set new standards and let us hold each other accountable so that what is being discussed now will not be just lip service.  So, what does it mean to be an American?  It means a place where we are all united and free.

“We will shape and mold this country, or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore.” Nina Simone.

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. She can also be found live on Instagram @Wendygladney on Wednesdays at 12 noon PST.

Racial Reconciliation in a Time of Racism

by Wendy Gladney on 06/22/20

The fabric of racism runs deep across the globe. Just this past week I read an article about a British company that offered an apology for their part in participating in the slave trade going back over 300 years. Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market that insured slave ships have now pledged new financial support to black and minority ethnic communities. The death of George Floyd brought to the surface the racism that has been running deep below the surface for centuries throughout the world.

Leaders across the board agree that the #blacklivesmatter movement has ignited actions on all levels that have pulled people in from all backgrounds. Some are still pushing back and, in my opinion, burying their heads in the sand thinking this will just go away. News flash, this is not going away. We all have a part to play no matter our race, class, ethnicity, culture, or religion. Although this started as a focus on the lives of black people being killed at the hands (or knee) of police officers, it has morphed into a human issue pulling in people from all walks of life. I believe it will continue until true repentance and understanding have been made.

The killing of black men and women by police is not new making people wonder what made the killing of George Floyd different? The question is being asked why has the world turned up and turned out to support police reform, especially around their disregard for the lives of black people? I along with others believe that it could be for a host of reasons including, but not limited to COVID-19. People are tired of being cooped up in the house; some also think that people are just sick and tired of being sick and tired; others especially young people are ready to have their voice heard; and finally timing, the time has come for a reckoning. It is time to clean house. The world has got to deal with the problem of race and racism. The magnifying glass is on the world to make things right, fair, and just for all mankind.

When South Africa was being dismantled after the end of Apartheid, Nelson Mandela created The Truth and Reconciliation Commission which served as a court-like restorative justice body. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the chair of the Commission (TRC). Archbishop Tutu also created the Forgiveness Project. He has committed his life to the healing of his country and others who have experienced pain and suffering. The past must be dealt with for people to be able to move forward. If we are going to resolve conflict, we must be able to sit and discuss the “sins of the past” and then devise a plan on how we will collectively move forward. A change is going to come one way or another. Let us try and do so as peaceful as possible.

When people see things from different perspectives, they must figure out how to find common ground. Safe zones must be created. To achieve racial reconciliation, forgiveness must be part of the discussion. Forgiveness is not easy, but it is necessary. Forgiveness embodies our emotions and we must control them and not let them control us. If we can include forgiveness as part of the process, we will come out on the other side better people. The flip side is if we stay chained to the past it will continue to destroy us into the future. Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Will the world stay blind to what is happening, or will we open our eyes to see our way to healing and reconciliation together? #racism #reconciliation #truth #catharsis #healing #forgiveness 

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. She can also be found live on Instagram @Wendygladney on Wednesdays at 12 noon PST.

America Has Been Prideful - Is a Fall Before Us?

by Wendy Gladney on 06/15/20

America exhibits a “haughty spirit” when the military can use tear gas to push back peaceful protestors at the wish of President Trump even though we have the right to protest peacefully, this exhibits a haughty spirit. When the police can enter a (Black) woman’s home without warning and kill her and her family is still waiting for justice, once again this is an example of a haughty spirit.   When a Black man is out jogging, and he is killed because a white man thinks he may be suspicious of stealing something, yet again is another example of a haughty spirit.  When police officer Chauvin can put his knee on the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds with no regards to his life, America is showing a haughty spirit.

According to the United States Bill of Rights we are all entitled to,” Certain Unalienable Rights” that provides each of us with “Equality Before the Law.” This gives the right for everyone to be treated equally, regardless of social status and yet we are seeing a destruction in society because of a failure in providing these rights to all Americans.  America cannot breathe because we are choking and strangling on the fact that our unalienable rights are not being fulfilled and America has embraced a haughty spirit that will bring about its fall if we do not correct things now.  

Our country and the world are currently in discussions around the subject of racism and injustice. According to Webster, racism has been defined as, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race." A woman by the name of Kennedy Mitchum in Missouri recently asked Merriam-Webster to update its definition because she did not believe it was inclusive and accurate to the current times. The dictionary officials agreed to do so.  The original definition did not consider the systemic racism and oppression that still exists that keeps certain people (Black) down and oppressed.

If we are honest all of us struggle or have struggled in some form or another with pride.  If we want things to get better and change for the best, we must be willing to look within and see what necessary adjustments we need to make.  This may even mean we have to put our pride on the shelf and admit that we have been wrong and judgmental in our thoughts and opinions on certain people, places, and things. The question is are we willing to take this step?  Are we willing to be the generation that steps up and rights the wrongs our country has made?

We can change laws, but without changing hearts we will be back in the same situation as we are today, it would be just a matter of time.  Sometimes the chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. It has been said that people who are overconfident and arrogant are likely to fail.  America must deal with our haughty spirit. We started as a great country and yet we are still confronted with the very issue of human rights.  We must deal with the shortcomings of our country now if we want to really live up to our potential.  Our generation is the hope for the future.  Let’s stand up together!   

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. She can also be found live on Instagram @Wendygladney on Wednesdays at 12 noon PST.

Do You Know Your Assignment?

by Wendy Gladney on 06/08/20

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The ultimate measure of a man (woman) is not where he (she) stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he (she) stands in times of challenge and controversy.”  We are in challenging times and I believe we still have more difficult days ahead.  To navigate the challenges we are facing we must be willing to show up and do what we are called to do.  Oftentimes we do not know or understand what our assignment in life is causing us to not know what to do next.  Sometimes it takes a difficult situation, or catastrophe to reveal what we are called or capable to do.  Are you willing to rise and fulfill your assignment even if it is difficult or not what you originally thought you would do in life?

Many of us are hurting right now and we feel stuck because we do not know what to do next or how we can continue to make a difference. We marched, we protested, we donated money, we made our voices heard across various platforms and now we are asking what do I do now?  How do we achieve justice and equality that will be sustained and not just be a passing phase? Or how does what I do really help in the long run? In my conversations with friends and family some have shared they feel confused, anxious, and are experiencing levels of fear and doubt wondering if what we are fighting for will last. Some have even expressed they do not know if they even matter. The answer is yes you matter.  This fight matters.  

Whenever I get to a place where I feel like I am going in circles and I need to get off the merry go round, I remind myself of my meaning, message, and mission.  All of us can get sidetracked by the things going on around us and get off track. Before we know it, we look up and we are on a road that we have no idea how we got there.  If you have already discovered what your true calling in life is, just go back to your core to your center.  Our meaning is our calling or assignment, our message is what we say or how we carry out our assignment, and our mission is ultimately the achievement of that assignment or our purpose.

Understanding one’s assignment is not always easy, especially when you are someone that has many gifts or talents.  However, what I always think about is what do you naturally gravitate towards?  As the saying goes, what would you do even if you were not getting paid?  What do people say you do well? Is there anything that puts pep in your step, and you look forward to doing it or working on it every time you get a chance?  When you have these answers, you are on your way to understanding your assignment.  

Once we know and understand our assignment we can then and only then contribute to the greater good.  We are all part of the puzzle and the picture will not come together to become the piece of art it is meant to be until we are all willing to do our assignment.  We are in a time of controversy and if we want to get through this tough time, we are going to have to put aside our ego and pride and focus on what needs to be done.  My assignment is to share the importance of extending grace, kindness, love, and forgiveness as we move through this process.  Yes, unjust people and systems must cease, and new processes be put in place that are mandated for everyone to follow. Resolution will not be achieved without conversation and the willingness for change.  We have lost enough battles now is time for all of us to work together to win this war on humanity.  Will you join me?  

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. She can also be found live on Instagram @Wendygladney on Wednesdays at 12 noon PST.

I Can't Breathe!

by Wendy Gladney on 06/01/20

My heart is heavy and I am tired of the necessity of us having this conversation, but as long as we need to speak on the matter of police officers killing black men with no respect for their lives, we will keep the dialogue going.  In some of my circles, I am asked why is there so much attention given to “Black Lives Matter?”  Don’t all lives matter?  Yes!  All lives do matter; however, history has proven that America has not valued the lives of black people, especially black men, therefore we need to shed light on this crisis.  During the time I was working on this article I had to go to my local post office and in line there was a white woman wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt.  I wanted to cry.  This is a big deal because I live in a conservative community and to see her wear that shirt made a statement.  I told her thank you for caring.  This was her way of making a difference.

In 2020 when a police officer can disregard the words of a man who says he cannot breathe, there is something wrong. The question I ask myself is would police officer Derek Chauvin act the same way if that had been a white man?  We all know if black men were killing white men they would be arrested if not killed immediately.  Even the Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey said that Chauvin should be charged in the death of George Floyd. Why hasn’t this happened? Being fired is not the same as being arrested and convicted for murder. Police Officers must be held accountable for their actions. Police Officers take an oath to serve and protect and that means for all citizens.  Sensitivity and unbiased training should be mandated and enforced for all police departments across the country.  If they cannot live up to that standard, then they should not be able to wear the badge.

For the record I support police officers.  I do not believe that all police officers are racist. I must believe the majority of them care about the people and communities they serve.  I have family and friends that have served on the force and I regularly make donations to my local Police Officer’s Association, but no one should be able to hide behind their badge or the color blue just because they wear a uniform.  I am the mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend to black men and my heart aches to know that they could walk out the door one day and not come back alive. This should not be something any body should have to worry about no matter what their race or nationality.

When someone says they cannot breathe it means just that!  Breathing is the very essence of life.  If we cannot breathe death is inevitable. If a person is being held down on the ground with a knee blocking their throat such as what happened to George Floyd their lives are in jeopardy.  New policies and procedures must be put in place on how police officers should handle people that are in their custody.  George Floyd was not even being apprehended because of a violent crime and yet he was treated less than an animal.

Former President Barack Obama said, “We need to keep making our streets safer and our criminal justice system fairer - our homeland more secure, our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation.” We must hold our legislative representatives and police departments accountable to treat everyone with the same dignity and respect. #justice #georgefloyd #blacklivesmatter #alllivesmatter #america #now #coachwendy

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. She can also be found live on Instagram @Wendygladney on Wednesdays at 12 noon PST.