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We See & Hear You Ms. Hattie McDaniel

by Wendy Gladney Dean on 03/16/15

As we continue to honor women this month, I am fascinated by the life of actress Hattie McDaniel.  She was born around the turn of the century in 1895 and lived less than 60 years.  She was actually the first African American to win an Oscar for her role in the movie Gone With The Wind in 1939 as a Supporting Actress.  We rarely hear about her work and some have even professed disappointment for the roles she played.  Critics felt her roles were stereotypic, but as she said, I rather play a maid and make seven hundred dollars than be a maid and make seven dollars. How many options did she really have? As a matter of fact she could not even attend the premiere of the movie in Atlanta due to segregation and when it came time for her to attend the Academy Awards, she had to sit at a segregated table in the back.  In 2010 when MoNique won her Oscar she paid tribute to Ms. Hattie and shared her gratitude for the doors she opened.   Hattie McDaniel eventually donated her statue to Howard University, but to this day it is missing and nowhere to be found.


As I read more about the life of Hattie McDaniel she was quite talented.  She was also a singer, songwriter, comedian, and the first black woman to sing on the radio here in the United States.  She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for her work in radio and one for her work in motion pictures.  She fought an uphill battle trying to work during a time when segregation, lack of rights and prejudice were prevalent.  She took severe criticism from the NAACP and others.  While Civil Rights organizations worked hard to bring about change and justice, she was pulled between survival and sacrifice in an industry that to this day still thrives off of stereotypes. 


Her battles extended beyond tinsel town into the legal arena.  She was part of the black homeowners that organized the West Adams neighborhood in Los Angeles also known as Sugar Hill.  White homeowners fought relentlessly to try and get rid of the black families that had the money and moved into the area.  Over time and with persistence a judge, Thurmond Clarke, threw the case out of court claiming that it was time that Negroes had their full rights guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment.  This was a victory for not only Ms. Hattie, but also other families of color.  Each year she would hold a Hollywood party at her home in Sugar Hill and many attended, including actor Clark Gable.


The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA has been at the forefront studying and talking about diversity in Hollywood and the importance of not only our history, but measures that need to be taken today.  To keep Hattie McDaniel’s  memory alive and in honor of Women’s History Month, a musical play called, Hattie…What I Need You To Know, will be playing at the Schoenberg Theater at UCLA this coming weekend.  This piece of history is being supported by both the UCLA Black Alumni and the Bunche Center.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said that women are like tea bags, you cannot tell how strong she is until she is put in hot water.  I have to say, Ms. Hattie you were one strong woman!


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. Wendy is featured on Radio Free 102.3 KJLH on Front Page with Dominique DiPrima Thursday Mornings @ 5:00am. 

How Many Ripples Will You Leave Across The Ocean of Life?

by Wendy Gladney Dean on 03/09/15

Mother Teresa once said, I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.  Globally, I believe women cast many stones that not only create ripples in the vast ocean of life, but change the dynamics of the world in which we live today.  Most, if not all of us, can think of a woman that has touched our lives and served as the catalyst of our hopes, dreams and goals.  


March has been set aside to celebrate the history and contributions made by women.  Here in the United States its beginnings go back to the first International Day for Women in 1911.  This past weekend we celebrated not only the 50th Anniversary of Selma and what came to be known as Bloody Sunday, but also International Day for Women 2015.   When I think of these two occasions the woman that comes to mind is Ms. Rosa Parks.  Ms. Parks said, Each person must live their life as a model for others.  Do we try to live each day with this thought in mind? Do we feel a burden to make an impact that will ripple across time and serve as a model or legacy for generations to come?


I truly believe that each of us holds the power to touch a life.  Sometimes the difference we make comes from the things we do and the impact it has on those we may never meet.   Sometimes it comes from personally investing in the wellbeing of someone that crosses our path.  Either way each one of us should try to reach at least one person in our lifetime and leave a mark.  When all is said and done it is truly what we do for others that makes a lasting impression after we are gone.


This article is not meant to give anyone a guilt trip, but to help all of us be more mindful of our actions and the consequences they have on others.  There are so many ways we can help someone along their journey.  I recently was given a book from a colleague that talks about the difference between a mentor and a sponsor.  They both serve crucial and oftentimes critical roles in the life of people we help, but they are different in how they play a role in the destiny of the person we are helping.  No matter what season of life we are in we have knowledge and experience that can help another from falling into unnecessary pitfalls.  Are you willing to be that coach, mentor or sponsor when you can make a difference? It’s never too late to start.


What I have found interesting is the more I try to help others the more I am blessed in exchange.  There is something unexplainable about the joy and beauty of when we focus on someone else, but yet our own buckets become full.  If this does not sound logical, I challenge you to try it.  Start today by throwing stones of love, forgiveness, patience, understanding, wisdom, knowledge and peace.  You just may be the one that inspires the next girl, woman, boy or man to achieve the dream or goal of a lifetime.  #womenhistorymonth #coach


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. Wendy is featured on Radio Free 102.3 KJLH on Front Page with Dominique DiPrima Thursday Mornings @ 5:00am. 

From Whence We Come

by Wendy Gladney Dean on 03/02/15

This past summer I received a call from a lady by the name of Helen Viser Fitzgerald.  Ms. Helen was the manager of the Lubbock, Texas City Library, Patterson Branch and she was trying to locate a family member of Nathaniel Reed in California.  Nathaniel Reed was my grandmother, Rebecca Ruth Reed Harris, brother.  He had a daughter that he named after my grandmother and she had passed away. The family was looking for a descendant from my our side to possible attend the funeral. 


When I first received the call I was not able to connect all of the dots.  Although I met several of my relatives over the years, I did not know or remember how we were exactly related.  In 2003 when my grandmother passed away, Dorothy McKever, Nathaniel's other daughter came out from Texas for the funeral and she and I connected.  Over the years I would send her cards and occasionally we would talk, but I did not remember exactly how we were related, I just knew we were family. 


Cousin Dorothy was the connection how Ms. Helen had originally reached out to me.  After our first call during the summer, Ms. Helen and I began communicating and as she learned more about the work I do she invited me to come and speak at their Black History Program that would be held February 28, 2015.  Months would go by and our communication became hit and miss.  For a period of time I did not hear from her and I thought they decided to go in another direction, then I received another call from Ms. Helen and she told me she had been in the hospital and was sorry she had not gotten back to me to make the arrangements for my visit.  She advised me she would be calling me soon to book my flight and take care of the necessary paperwork. 


Then during the Christmas holidays, I received a call from Jane Clausen from the Patterson Branch Library advising me that Ms. Helen had passed away in November.  My heart was saddened, I had no idea that she had been so ill.  She was a woman that had such life and vitality over the phone, I just could not wait to meet her.  During my conversation with Jane, I thought that the trip was going to be canceled and of course I would have understood.  To my surprise, she told me no, Ms. Helen definitely wanted you to come and she left explicit instructions to that effect.  I said okay it would be my honor and my pleasure. 


This past weekend I traveled to Lubbock, Texas through the sleet and snow to share a message on the meaning of celebrating our heritage.  I am grateful to the people of Lubbock for their kindness and hospitality.  Many of us do not stay connected to our families and communities from whence we came and then we have no idea who our people are and how we are connected.  I am truly grateful that I have pieces of the puzzle about my family and where my roots are planted.  I am encouraged to work harder putting the pieces together even more to leave a map and footprints for those that will come behind me so they will know from whence they have come.  I am truly sorry that I was not able to meet Mrs. Helen Faye Viser Fitzgerald.  She definitely left her footprint on a community that stretched clear to California.


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. Wendy is featured on Radio Free 102.3 KJLH on Front Page with Dominique DiPrima Thursday Mornings @ 5:00am. 

Is It Really Just Black Or White?

by Wendy Gladney Dean on 02/23/15

I recently went to see the movie starring Kevin Costner, Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer, and Jillian Estell about a young biracial girl who is being raised by her maternal white grandfather and all of the challenges that come from that situation.   This movie caught my attention because I too am a biracial child of a white mother and a black father.  I was a product of forbidden love of 1961.  


The movie starts by showing the granddaughter, Eloise, being raised by her maternal grandparents due to the death of her mother during childbirth.  The opening scene shows that her maternal grandmother is killed in a car accident and her grandfather, Kevin Costner, is faced with raising his granddaughter alone.  Eloise’s paternal grandmother, Rowena, Octavia Spencer,  feels that she will be better equipped at raising Eloise now that both her mother and maternal grandmother are gone and teaching her more about her black roots.  The rest of the movie deals with issues of race, forgiveness and coming to a better understanding of each other.  When a child is born from a union of two different cultures or races is there a question of which side is better fit to raise that child?  In society today we are experiencing more multi-cultural families. 


During my childhood my mother, due to reasons I may never understand, actually walked away from me when I was just a little girl around 3 or 4 years old. I was then raised by my father and his  family with no real knowledge of my mother and her family, culture or heritage.  As with most children, I longed to know who my mother was, what she looked like and to learn why she left me, so when I was in college I set out to find her.  When I met my mother I also met my grandparents, aunts and cousins, but it would still be another twelve years when I was 30 years old before my mother would become a part of my life.  One day she called me and told me that her husband died and left her homeless and would I help her.  Of course I said yes. 


My paternal grandmother, also known as Mother Dear, was first born free in our family.  Her father was born a slave and freed as a little boy. Once she completed college and married, she migrated from the South with her husband and children in the hopes of a better life.  My grandmother believed in God, family and the importance of an education.  She also taught me to love and forgive others. This philosophy gave me the foundation that I live by today. 


Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I was raised by both my mother and father. I know I missed a lot by not spending time with her and that side of my family growing up, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to not only meet my mother and even take care of her before she died, but also to now have a relationship with members of my maternal family.  This was healing not only for me, but for generations to come on both sides of my family.  In spite of it all, I am proud of who I am, where I come from and the legacy I will be able to leave for my children and grandchildren.    Forgiveness helped my family mend and have the ability to look forward with hope and love.  #coach #forgiveness #family


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. Wendy is featured on Radio Free 102.3 KJLH on Front Page with Dominique DiPrima Thursday Mornings @ 5:00am. 

Are You Processed Oriented Or Outcome Focused?

by Wendy Gladney Dean on 02/16/15

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves.  The process never ends until we die.  And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.  Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with my son Freddie to catch up and see what has his attention these days.  My son has a very charming and outgoing personality and after he graduated from the University of California Irvine, he moved to Australia where he studied abroad and then returned back to Southern California a little over three years ago to pursue opportunities in the entertainment industry. 


In one of our conversations, he asked me a really interesting question.  He said mom do you think you are process oriented or outcome focused?  I had to stop and really think about that question.  When one is process oriented they tend to be caught up in the way something is done, or the process.  The dictionary defines process as a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.  Whereas if you are focused on the outcome it means you are primarily interested in the way a thing turns out.  Is one better than the other?  Are they mutually exclusive? 


As I reflect on what role both of these questions mean to me in my life, I feel to achieve the outcome one desires, a process must be identified to help  get to the destination.  It is of my opinion the two go hand in hand.  Of course with my son being strong willed he was determined to make me select one or the other (for the purpose of debate), so I had to go with being more concerned with the process than the outcome.  At the end of the day I believe if we are clear with our process, what we do, how we do it and why we do it, achieving our desired outcome will be accomplished.


Oftentimes people can become fixated on achieving a certain goal.  Goals are great, I actually talk about their importance in some of my presentations, however, when we become more concerned with the outcome and not weighing the costs, we must consider the consequences.  Professionals from different walks of life and fields of discipline believe when a person goes through the necessary steps or process, they discover a lot about themselves. When we skip steps or get so focused on just the finish line, we may miss some real jewels along the journey that may prove to be a better path for us.   


Being disciplined and focused to achieve the goals we desire is necessary, but at the end of the day we must really look at the journey we take to get where we want to go.  When we look back at our life or when history looks back at the choices and decisions we made, did we help someone in need even if it meant we got you off course for a minute?  Did we help make the world a little better for someone coming behind us?  Did we even take time to smell the roses along the way? So yes, being focused on the outcome is important, but as the saying goes, life is a journey and not just a destination!


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. Wendy is featured on Radio Free 102.3 KJLH on Front Page with Dominique DiPrima Thursday Mornings @ 5:00am.