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Sowing a Legacy of a Good Education!

by Wendy Gladney on 03/09/20

I remember the day I received my confirmation in the mail that I was accepted into the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).  I was not the first in my family to attend college, but as the eldest sibling, I would be the one to encourage my brother and sisters that it was possible for them as well.  My grandmother, who was my primary caregiver, was a graduate of an Historical Black College (HBCU) called Bishop, located in Texas.  She made sure we knew the importance of getting an education; so, for me, college was not an option.  It was not a matter of if I would go to college, but rather where I would go.

I’ve heard some people say that they do not believe going to college after high school is even necessary to be successful in the world.  When I’ve had these discussions, the people that believe this always give examples of people that did not graduate from college who are successful.  While this may be true, those individuals are in the minority, and usually come from money and wealth or they invent something that brings them financial success.  I believe that attending college provides more than just a pathway to obtaining a good job; it also provides an opportunity to get a well-rounded education, meet some fantastic people and gives young people time to mature and grow up.

Growing up, I was always told that I had an old soul.  I believe this is true and it took years for me to catch up to myself. But when I think about my years at UCLA, I met people that I am still friends with to this day.  When my daughter went away to attend Spelman in Atlanta, my friend and UCLA classmate Deanna instantly became her “Atlanta family.”  While I was at UCLA, I also became an intern in Washington, D.C. with Congressman Julian C. Dixon.  I became exposed to a world in DC that I would have never known had I not had that opportunity as a college student.  I could go on about the various doors that opened to me while at UCLA, but the bottom line is the opportunity to go to college changed my life in a positive way.

What about all the students that don’t get the opportunity to go to college?  I sit on the Board of Directors for the UCLA Black Alumni Association (UBAA) and one of our goals is to not only encourage students to attend UCLA, but to also help them get in, stay in and graduate.  As UCLA continues to celebrate their centennial, UBAA is celebrating 100 years of Black Bruin Excellence.  We are doing this by keeping the life and legacy of Winston C. Doby alive.  Winston Churchill Doby was one of UCLA’s vice chancellors. He was Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs for 20 years, making him the longest-serving Vice Chancellor in UCLA history, and then served as the Vice President of Student Affairs for the UC system.

While I attended UCLA, Winston C. Doby touched my life and I am grateful to be part of a group of alumni that want to keep his desires going and growing for future generations.  On Saturday, March 14, UBAA will hold a dinner honoring nine distinguished individuals who are also committed to educating students.  We will raise money to give scholarships to worthy students. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  Let’s encourage everyone to maximize any opportunity to expand their education -- no matter where it may be.   

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

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

International Women's Day!

by Wendy Gladney on 03/02/20

As we close out Black History Month and usher in Women’s History Month two beautiful women that impacted our lives recently made their transition and are no longer with us.  Barbara Elaine Smith also known as B. Smith and Katherine Johnson, better known to some as the star of the movie Hidden Figures. March 8th is the day we celebrate International Women’s Day, so I wanted to celebrate these two firsts.   Ms. Smith and Ms. Johnson left their stamp in very different ways, but both of these beautiful ladies made an impact not only here in the United States, but internationally.  

Barbara Elaine Smith was best known as a restaurateur, lifestyle guru, and was one of the first African American models to be featured on the cover of “Mademoiselle” magazine.  She helped break through barriers that helped open doors for other women of color working in the modeling industry. She was our Martha Stewart.  I remember when I learned about who she was I was attracted to her beautiful smile and I had to visit her restaurant in Manhattan called, B. Smith’s.  Later when I visited Sag Harbor I went to her restaurant there as well.  Although I never met her personally, she touched me in such a way that showed me a role model who accomplished some of the things I tried and wanted to do.  So, as you can imagine it was sad when I learned that she not only suffered with Alzheimer’s, but that at the still young age of 70 she succumbed to the disease. Before her death she collaborated on a book, “Before I Forget,” to share her fight against the disease and to provide practical advice for families and loved ones who may also suffer.

Katherine Johnson was the NASA mathematician who helped send the first United States astronauts into orbit and later to the moon.  She lived over a century and now she is resting above the stars.  She was known as a trailblazer in the quest for racial equality and for her work in the math and science world. She served as the inspiration for the lead character in “Hidden Figures” and has made many little girls of color seek an interest in the field of math and science.  When she was making history, I was just being born.  Her life and work have touched me personally because I have two very dear friends who have worked with her and have helped her story come to light.  Because of the life and work of Ms. Johnson my childhood friend Dr. Yvonne Cagle became an astronaut and will speak at her memorial.  In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor and last year a NASA facility in West Virginia was renamed in her honor. Ms. Johnson happened to also be the first African American woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University so how appropriate.  It warms my heart that she was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority where I am also a member.

The question I would ask is how do the lives and accomplishments of both Katherine Johnson and Barbara Elaine Smith help motivate you?  I read that the two most important days of our lives are the day we were born and the day we come to learn why we were born.  It is evident by their fruit that both of these ladies understood why they existed, and they lived their lives to the fullest.  Let’s honor them and all women who came before us and helped pave the way by not wasting our lives.  After all we have the next generation coming behind us that are looking to us as their example.  This coming Sunday, March 8th let’s celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women everywhere!

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. 

Yes - Words Can Hurt!

by Wendy Gladney on 02/24/20

Growing up as little children we learned the rhyme, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Whoever came up with that, lied.  Words can hurt and sometimes even deeper than being physically hit.  What someone says can penetrate deep within our minds and subconscious and stay with us for a lifetime.  I personally know what it feels like to hear negative comments from friends and family growing up and it has taken me a lifetime to change the trajectory of how I think about myself.  Because of my childhood experiences, I was determined when I became a mother to plant positive seeds in my children (and others) about who they are and how much they are loved. 

Recently in the news, and widespread across social media, we heard that Snoop Dogg was upset with Gayle King for how she questioned Lisa Leslie in an interview pertaining to Kobe Bryant and the 2003 rape case.  I understand the frustration he must have felt regarding the situation and tainting Kobe’s legacy (especially so soon after his tragic death). However, there was no excuse for the language he used and for the platform (social media) he used to express his thoughts.  I know that he eventually made a public apology and I am happy he was man enough to do so; but once something has been put out into the universe, the initial damage is done, and it can take a long time for healing and forgiveness to take place. True forgiveness and healing can happen but will be a process.

I am an advocate for forgiveness, and I do believe it can change lives forever once given and received.  It is crucial for all of us to give some serious thought about what we say and do before we do it.  Oftentimes when we act hastily and move forward with anger or bitterness, we often regret how we’ve behaved later.  When in this space, I recommend you first STOP and think about everything and what the consequences might be if you say something that can hurt other people.  Count to 100 and if time is not of the essence, sleep on it.  Sleep and space can add an entirely new perspective on how to handle a situation.  Secondly, after you’ve had a chance to think about the situation then think about how you would feel if someone responded to you in the same manner. Put the mirror on you.   Finally, in sharing how you feel, be respectful and if it isn’t positive you don’t have to do it publicly (and especially not on social media).  Every action causes a reaction and sowing negativity very rarely produces a positive result.

I want to be clear; I understand that some situations may cause for a serious or hard conversation, but we always have the option to express ourselves in a proper tone.  In the case between Snoop Dogg and Gayle King, because of the way it was put out into the atmosphere, it caused others to get involved and take sides.  We all have the right to our opinions, but when they affect others, we should care enough about the greater good than to just put people on blast and call them out of their name.  After all, regarding the scenario between Snoop and Gayle, I don’t believe she meant to be malicious, but rather as a journalist she may have just been trying to make sure she covered all her bases.  It may have been perceived as insensitive to some, but I don’t believe her heart was in the wrong place. 

Let’s try and give people the benefit of the doubt before we speak.  Family, there’s enough negativity in the world; we don’t need to continue the cycle.  Keep your head up and, when in doubt, your mouth shut.

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. 

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.