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Traveling Opens Our Mind and Our Perspective on Life

by Wendy Gladney on 07/16/18

This has been a season of change filled with a few transitions for me and my family.  As I’ve navigated my next steps, one of the things I decided to do was increase my personal and professional traveling.  I believe traveling opens our minds and gives a firsthand perspective of world views. I knew this decision would require sacrifice, commitment and flexibility on my part, but as I am halfway through the year it has been more than rewarding. My adventures have included stepping out of my comfort zone and attending different types of self- improvement conferences and classes that will ultimately help me improve my skillset and provide direction to better fulfill my purpose and passion.

Traveling across the country as well as abroad allows one to take in a variety of opinions and perspectives.  Understanding different attitudes and points of view can help navigate the awkwardness of sensitive topics that I was curious to discuss. As I traveled through various parts of Italy and Greece recently, I had the opportunity to share my thoughts about forgiveness, humanity, hope, peace, love and happiness to a variety of people and what I found is that all of us have the same basic concerns.  One of those concerns pertains to the direction the world and mankind is headed in today’s political and global climate, but overall people still believe in humanity and that goodness will prevail. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Across the globe, injustice towards so many still runs rampant.  In 2018, right here in the United States, we are faced with a rise in racism and basic human rights being challenged and placed on the chopping block. We are actually stepping back in time. Internationally, as well as here in America, issues such as sex trafficking, safety, homelessness, economic inequality and healthcare to name just a few still run rampant without solutions. We must realize what affects our brother or sister will eventually have a profound effect on our own lives.  We must care and do our part to help improve the situation and make the world a better place for all.

As much as I enjoy traveling the world, and plan to continue, there is a “world” all around us no matter where we go.  Right in our own backyards is a global community. Truth be told we all (except the American Indian) are immigrants (travelers) in one form or another. An immigrant is a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country. At one time or another in history America was a foreign country and our fore fathers came here either of their own free will or by force. Our roots are established here originally as immigrants.  For those who leave here (or their home of origin) and become expats, in reality you too are a form of an “immigrant.”  As I shared in my opening, traveling has the ability of opening our minds to understanding issues from various perspectives.  Explore for yourself.  Don’t let the opinions of others (including mine) determine your entire perspective.  It’s a great big world out there. Don’t be afraid to see the world through the lens of your own eyes. #Forgiveness #Coach #WendysWindow 

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

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

Yes I Stand With Maxine Waters!

by Wendy Gladney on 07/08/18

As a woman of color -- and let’s be clear: as a Black Woman, I know I would not have the freedom and availability to have the voice I have if it were not for the fact that others stand up and fight to make sure equality and justice is available to all of us.  I appreciate and respect the fact that United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters is willing to stand up and not only speak on behalf of those who can’t be heard, but is willing to fight on their behalf.  Why is it when a woman refuses to be submissive and quiet we are called belligerent or uncivil, but when men step up to make a point they are applauded?  As my grandmother used to say, sometimes it really is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.  “Auntie Maxine” please keep squeaking. 

I am a native of Southern California. I originally hail from the fair city of Riverside.  When I moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1979, Maxine Waters had already started her career in public service working in the office of then Los Angeles City Councilman David Cunningham as Chief Deputy and you could see she had a drive that could not and would not be stopped even back then. Councilman David Cunningham was my uncle and I was exposed (even from the shadows) to her commitment and dedication to the improvement of those she served close to forty years ago. 

Although I’ve not had a very close relationship with the Congresswoman, I can say from my own personal experience working with her and her office in the Los Angeles area, whenever I reach out to request her assistance, presence, support or help, when it is within her power she always does her best.  I am grateful that no matter how full her plate may be and how much she has to work and travel around the world to make a difference in uplifting democracy, she still has the human touch and doesn’t forget about those who she not only represents, but who also depend on her to be heard.  Now don’t get me wrong, Auntie Maxine will also put you in your place if she thinks she needs to correct you. But is that a bad thing? 

On that point, if Congresswoman Maxine Waters feels she had to express herself in such a way that came across as challenging the Trump Administration, then I can tell you she had good reason and she definitely does her homework and can factually back up whatever platform she is standing on.  She is no joke and we need to continue to support the work she is doing.  It takes a multitude of people to do a mighty work and she is one of the (our) soldiers in this fight.  A dear friend of mine used to talk about how when you look at a piece of tapestry it looks so beautiful on the top, but oftentimes when you turn it over it can look a hot mess.  Well, the backside of life may sometimes look and be a hot mess, but Maxine Waters is working hard to make sure the topside of the tapestry comes together beautifully and brilliantly.

Lest we forget.  If we are not careful, the hands of time will definitely roll back.  We need to support everyone that is trying to make the world a better place and that is willing to stand for justice. As a member of so many women organizations including (but not limited to), the National Council of Negro Women, Black Women for Positive Change, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., #IStandWithMaxine!

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

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

Young Women Rising

by Wendy Gladney on 07/02/18

For the past few years the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) and the U.S. Department of State have jointly held what is known as Career Opportunities in International Relations (COIR) at the State Department in Washington, D.C.  This past week AWIU and the DOS held the event in the Harry S. Truman Building with a reception later the same day at the Meridian House. The whole purpose and mission of the event is to expose young women in high school, college and post-college to current career opportunities with the government in International Relations. 

As a new member of AWIU, I had the opportunity to serve as the moderator for the reception at the Meridian House where we had a panel of three distinguished women, Ambassador Swanee Hunt (Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer, Public Policy, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author); Dr. Louise Shelley (Professor, Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair, Scyhar School of Policy and International Affairs, George Mason University and author); and Sabrina Hersi Issaa, (CEO, Be Bold Media, Award Winning Human Rights Technology). The 2018 Impact Awards were also presented to five young women that were nominated by various individuals across the country. Forgiving For Living was proud to have one of our girls, Amaya Neely, from Los Angeles (now attending Cornell University) to participate and to be one of the five young women honored.

Oftentimes our girls are left out of being exposed to these opportunities and it is important for us that have access to make sure they are not only in the room, but also at the table.  AWIU members such as president Maria Schory, Diane Mitchell Henry and Heather Joy Thompson from the DOS, among others, are making sure as much as possible that no girl is left behind on their watch.  With the current climate of the world, we have to empower our young women to understand their worth and strength more than ever.  There’s an African Proverb that says, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.”

As a coach I work with people regularly who “don’t know what they don’t know.”  Life and opportunities are so much about who we know, what we know and what we are exposed to. The events this past week at the Department of State and the Meridian House talked about the importance of being and having a mentor.  I also think it is important for us to be and have a sponsor.  The difference a sponsor brings to the table is that they are invested in your success.  We have to share knowledge and information when we know it can help open doors for others. 

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “you must do the things you think you cannot do.” I am blessed to be involved in many different organizations and groups, and I am determined to make sure young girls and women know their full potential and achieve the unimaginable. If all of us are willing to do the same, there will be many “young women rising!”

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

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

John Wesley Mack: Icon, Leader & Mentor

by Wendy Gladney on 06/24/18

In 1979 I was a senior at Riverside Polytechnic High School.  We were considered the suburbs, or “the country,” compared to Los Angeles. My grandmother, who was the matriarch in our family, believed that it was important for us to be card-carrying members of civil rights and social organizations such as the N.A.A.C.P. and the Urban League, among others.  But it wasn’t enough to just be members. We were also to be active and involved whenever and wherever possible.  In 1979, the Riverside Urban League Guild decided to hold a beauty pageant and present to the community “Miss Inland Empire Urban League.”

The women who headed up the Guild decided to make this a big event and they contacted the Los Angeles Urban League.  At that time, John W. Mack was the President and served as one of the judges. Larry McCormick, a news anchor with KTLA-TV, served as the Emcee.  If we were “the country,” we were definitely picking in tall cotton.  I actually won the pageant and this was my first introduction to the Icon and Civic Leader that would play a role in my life for almost the next 40 years. During my reign as “Miss Inland Empire Urban League,” I became a student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and I had the honor of representing the League at various community events across Southern California that allowed me to have many interactions with him for years to come.

Once I moved to Los Angeles to attend college, I lived with my Uncle David Cunningham for a short period of time (between apartments) and I found out that my uncle (who was once married to my father’s sister) was friends with John Mack and they played tennis together whenever possible. When I would interact with Mr. Mack, I found him to be a man of few words and soft spoken; but when he spoke everyone listened, including me. Deeply entrenched in the community, he was profoundly respected and served as the president of the Los Angeles Urban League for over 35 years.

After I graduated from college and eventually started my professional career as an event planner, I had the opportunity to volunteer with Rene Etienne who worked with the League for years and led one of the most successful nonprofit organizations’ dinners in the city.  During those times I remember having brief interactions with Mr. Mack and he was kind and caring, but was also serious when it came to making sure things were done with excellence. In 2005, a Los Angeles Times article referred to him as a “Gentleman Warrior.” I could not agree with them more.

John Mack may have originally been born in South Carolina, but he was a son of Southern California.  He made his mark and made a difference wherever he served; whether as president of the Urban League, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, husband, father, friend and for someone like me, mentor. He fought a good fight, he finished his race and he kept the faith.  Well done good and faithful servant, John Wesley Mack.  Thank you for teaching me and touching my life even in your quiet moments.   

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

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

The Possibility of Progress

by Wendy Gladney on 06/03/18

Recently my daughter and I experienced a situation that really bothered me.  We were seated in the bar area of a five star hotel enjoying after dinner drinks when an intoxicated man came over to our table. We were a group of African American women talking and having a good time, minding our business, when he drunkenly stumbled upon us and complimented our appearance. He went on to say that we were all very beautiful and that he “doesn’t see color.” From there, an academic debate began about color and race (a senseless conversation to have with a drunk person). Appearing white, he shared that he was actually Puerto Rican and asserted himself quite aggressively. It later came out that he is a professor at a university and recently got in trouble for making racist remarks to an African American female student. Refusing to assuage his guilt, he began to get out of control, making everyone uncomfortable. When the hotel staff was asked to handle the situation and contact security, they took it lightly. When security did arrive, we were told that they couldn’t do anything about it.

What bothers me is that I truly believe if the roles had been reversed and an African American man was making a room full of white women feel uncomfortable (especially when they were largely patronizing the hotel as a group) not only would security be called in immediately, a S.W.A.T. team would have probably been dispatched and handled the situation in a matter of minutes.  What is the possibility of progress in a situation such as this?

We’ve all heard about Rosanne Barr’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, former adviser to President Obama, comparing her to an ape. And we applaud Disney and ABC for their swift response in cancelling her show. We are also familiar with the incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia when the police were called on two black men waiting to have a meeting. In response, on May 29, Starbucks closed 8,000 stores to teach racial sensitivity training; a decision that cost them millions of dollars in revenue. But so many are asking: is this enough?

Recently, MSNBC held a town hall called “Everyday Racism in America.” They brought in several experts around the topic of racial profiling, racial sensitivity training and anti-bias training. One of the special guests was Valerie Jarrett. When they asked her how she felt about Rosanne, her response was, “this is a teachable moment.” How more classy could she be? She went on to share that she is surrounded by a village that supports her, but what about the average individual who doesn’t have the same support?  They also discussed Lolade Siyonbola, a Black Yale student, who had the cops called on her by a white student because she was asleep in a common area. Yale authorities have yet to come out against this type of treatment towards its students. 

When it comes to race relations in America, the statistics are staggering: 45% believe that race relations in the United States is getting worse and 72% believe that racial discrimination remains a major problem in American society. We’ve acknowledged it is a problem. But where do we go from here? What is the possibility of progress and how do we educate people about where stereotypes come from and that racism is built into the fabric of our society? How do we talk about and deal with the daily micro aggressions that people of color and other minorities face on a daily basis? As for me, I still believe we must come back to the foundation of forgiveness, truth and reconciliation. Bishop Desmond Tutu said it best when he said there’s “no future without forgiveness.”

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

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