Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why The Big Blue Issue

This space has always been used to address mayhem and madness while being uplifting to the readers of my blog. Writing negativity week-after-week is not my cup of tea, nor do I want to hear about others' negativity. For 18 months or more, my eyes and ears have seen and heard things that left me perplexed about my sons' beloved Big Blue. My efforts, in trying to sort fact from fiction, were for their benefit. The outcome of that sorting was shared with you in newspapers and blogs that carry my column, Genmaspeaks. Now, after almost two years of seeing and hearing, here is what I know to be true: the TSU community must be reminded of why our blood bleeds blue!

My oldest son tells me often, “Mom, TSU is a really good school. It has some of the best programs in the country, but we have to do a better job of telling our story.” (I have told you before my child’s a genius.) And, he is right. The TSU community has to do a better job of telling about its storied past that is rich in cultural heritage, and continue to celebrate the diversity of thinkers, teachers and students who are part of the university today. One will find programs only unique to TSU. Many TSU alumni are the first in their fields representing diverse professions such as medicine, engineering, business, politics and the arts community, to name a few. TSU also has professors and researchers who are nationally recognized. Even the students are making positive news nationally before they graduate from the university. We must celebrate those gifts.

I could have written an entire series on TSU football standouts; and not just the ones who went to the NFL. Richard Dent has given us much to shout about by becoming the first TSU football talent to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2011). Further, I wanted to do an entire section on the famed Tigerbelles, then and now. I could have filled pages about the accomplishments of Coach Chandra Cheeseborough, who I interviewed two years ago, Edith McGuire-Duvall, Martha Hudson, Isabelle Daniels, Barbara Jones Slater, Wyomia Tyus, Lucinda Williams, Willye B. White, Wilma Rudolph and, of course, legendary Coach Ed Temple. They were not overlooked by any means. At TSU, we love our sports, but we also know TSU is not only a sports school.

TSU now receives a matching land grant for agricultural research, forestry research and cooperative extension funding in excess of $9 million per year. As of this fiscal year, this will generate nearly $39 million in state and federal matching funds for land grant activities. TSU’s College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences dean, Dr. Chandra Ready, advises President Obama. That is an honor. And speaking of honors, in spite of being beaten black and blue in the local mainstream media, TSU achieved high honors by receiving the Carnegie-Engaged University Classification status, winning an award for community engagement and landing on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Yes, TSU has made an intentional effort to teach young people the value of being part of the solution; not the problem. With these awards for service to the community, it is no surprise that the school is part of Tennessee Campus Compact. The Tennessee Campus Compact provides leadership, resources and advocacy to enhance student learning by increasing the capability of Tennessee institutions of higher education to embed civic engagement. The more we shape our future leaders about the role they play in giving back to the community, the better alumni they will make when it's time to give back to the university.

TSU also fought and won honorary degrees for 14 Freedom Riders expelled 50 years ago. The fight to recognize their efforts in helping to desegregate the South was a reminder that racial issues are systemic and it is important for us to continue to have dialogue and conversations that keep us moving forward and not backwards. TSU's Freedom Riders revealed and changed the hearts of men and women then and now.

The arts have always been respected by the TSU community as well. Two alumnus', Jeff Carr and Barry Scott, have poured their passion into the community by opening theater companies that attract diverse audiences from around the country. Carr has expanded his platform to engage young people internationally with trips to Africa and Haiti. Additionally, TSU’s choir was in the spotlight when they participated in a stirring tribute to one of TSU’s most famous alumni, Oprah Winfrey, during the 33rd Kennedy Center Honors, which was nationally televised. TSU also has a vibrant campus newspaper, radio station and television studio - all strong media programs designed to train the Oprah of tomorrow.

Not to be left out, TSU’s scientists and engineers have global impact. Dr. Levi Watkins, a cardiac surgeon, is known for the creation and implantation of the Automatic Implantable Defibrillator (AID). The AID detects irregular heart rhythm and shocks the heart back to life. Engineer Jesse Russell played a major role in shaping the wireless communications industry through his visionary leadership and innovative perspectives for standards, technologies and innovative new wireless service concepts. TSU's College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science alumni continue to aggressively support the college raising more than $2.250 million for their endowment.

TSU has much to celebrate as it continues to address deficiencies that need to be corrected. Campus customer service issues are being made top priority and the students are being reminded often that they are the purpose of the university.

As I close, let me thank several people who were the backbone of the Big Blue Issue. TSU alumna Mrs. Rosetta Miller-Perry, thank you for allowing the Tribune to be the source for the Big Blue Issue. Certainly, black media has a responsibility in not only telling of our greatness and good deeds, but to also call out the bad and the ugly when necessary. Thank you again for the Big Blue Issue.

K. Dawn Rutledge, who was the first person I shared the idea of highlighting TSU's accomplishments in the Tribune. Her only words to me after a lengthy breathless five-minute presentation were, “I love it!” She became the go-to person for stories that fit the theme of the issue. She volunteered her time and was not afraid to give critique and did not hold back praise. There was no way this could have been done without Dawn. No way at all.

David Walker was my ninth-hour angel with blue wings. A TSU graduate, who has a flare for dealing with me when I am at my worst at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, gave his heart and soul to this project. It took a TSU graduate to see the vision of where this could go. His love of Big Blue is evident. I said, “I need your help,” and he never looked back.

Lastly, my children are the source for my passion for life. My sons love their Big Blue. A hard fought for degree should not be devalued by mayhem. I am so proud of them for making decisions to not only better their lives with an education, but to make a difference in the lives of others. They keep me on my toes and keep me tapping at my computer. Although not perfect, I hope all of you enjoyed the first Big Blue Issue. It was birthed out of love for my family and my community. Go Big Blue!

(A big thank you to all the contributors and supporters who also made this happen.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Charles Sueing: Service Above Service

(From the Big Blue Issue)
Charles Sueing is the principal agent and President of The Sueing Insurance Agency; a full service insurance and financial services agency with Nationwide Insurance & Financial Services. Sueing began his career with Nationwide over 18 years ago and moved through the ranks of corporate management before taking a leap of faith to start his own agency here in Nashville 13 years ago. His business is a full services insurance agency that offers insurance solutions and financial services including auto, homeowners, business and life as well as a variety of retirement and investment vehicles.

Charles is known for his commitment to serving others in the Nashville community. With his numerous roles on several prominent boards to his dedication to supporting his son’s little league sport team, the UNA Bears, Charles is the first to step up to lead to make a difference. When the floods disrupted many lives in the Bordeaux community, Charles decided to work with the North Nashville Flood Relief efforts to provide education and insurance services to those in the community who are still dealing with the aftermath of last year’s flood.

The community of Bordeaux is filled with many established neighborhoods and businesses, yet the area was undeserved by national reputable insurance companies. Charles thought he could fill the void and meet many needs by opening his second office in the middle of one of the most damaged areas of the city. In fact, Nationwide’s The Sueing Agency is the only national insurance company in Bordeaux.

Not only did Charles open his office in the area to meet the insurance needs of his Bordeaux customers but Charles plans to use his office (and network) to help Youth About Business, a local non-profit that mentors young people to become future business leaders. He will facilitate intern opportunities for them and educate them on the insurance industry.

A big believer in mentoring, Charles, who was a mentee of Dr. Melvin N. Johnson, serves as the Program Chair and Vice Chair of The 100 Black Men of Middle TN, whose mission is to nurture and enhance the growth, development and opportunities for young, Black males of Middle TN. Additionally, Charles also serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. When asked about his definition of success and prosperity, he said, “By my definition, prosperity has to do with the overall quality of life – a diversity of people, a welcoming business environment and people who care about helping others become more successful.”

Charles' love of the Nashville and TSU community was reciprocated when he opened his office in Bordeaux in October. Members and customers from every corridor of the city came to the grand opening. Charles' grilling skills were put to the test as he grilled for hundreds who filled the parking lot to celebrate his new location. During this event, a local radio station was on hand for a live remote broadcast and lots of great prizes were given away. Nationwide also showed their support of Charles' commitment to service with a sea of faces from South Central Sales, Diversity and Inclusion and Supply Management team members.

Charles hard work has not gone unnoticed by his customers and his colleagues. He has been recognized by Nationwide Insurance Co as the 2007 Regional Community Service Award winner and 2009 District Community Service Award winner for his outstanding community and customer service work. Additionally, Charles received the 2008-2009 Spirit of the Chamber Award for his efforts in leading Small Business initiatives.

TSU's President Dr. Portia Shields: Change Gonna Come

Dr. Portia Holmes Shields is officially at helm of Tennessee State University. Dr. Shields reminds every one of her favorite song when she addresses concerns about Big Blue; “Change is Gonna Come.” The first female president of the 99-year-old university was named interim president in mid-December and officially began her duties on January 2. Dr. Shields has 18 months on the job and is not wasting a moment. She is determined to turn things around.

At a recent general assembly meeting attended by more than 400 faculty and staff members, Dr. Portia Shields gave updates to the campus on a number of upcoming changes, including more visitor parking, a reduction in force, the installation of a SACS Leadership Team, implementing Saturday make up classes, community engagement, inference from individuals regarding reaffirmation and security issues. Shields also announced the appointment of Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, Dr. Pamela Burch-Sims, as the University’s liaison to SACS.

Shields called the meeting to order and asked members of her cabinet to provide updates on a number of upcoming changes that would affect the campus. Cynthia Brooks, vice president for business and finance, announced a reduction in force (RIF) and explained how the RIF would be conducted. Dr. Dennis Gendron, vice president of communications and information technologies, gave an overview of how the newly adopted Tennessee Complete College Act would effect performance funding dollars. Finally, Dr. Michael A. Freeman, vice president of Student Affairs, gave an update on how reserved parking would be eliminated in favor of increased visitor parking.

Shields also introduced the installation of a SACS Leadership Team, headed by Burch-Sims, who has been appointed the University’s liaison to the SACS Commission on Colleges. The other members of the SACS Leadership include Dr. Peter Nwosu, special assistant to the President for institutional planning, and Dr. Timothy Quain, a faculty member in the Department of Language, Literature, and Philosophy. The trio delivered a plan and timeline for the report the University has to submit for reaffirmation.

Change is coming. Get ready.

The Woman Beneath the Hats

Senator Thelma Harper is a 1978 graduate of TSU and the Chairperson of the Tennessee Black Caucus; she is known as much for her sense of style as her politics. Senator Harper is the first African-American woman to be elected to the Senate, the first woman to preside over the Senate and the first Senator to lead the Black Caucus. Harper is known for not focusing on the fluffy stuff and for speaking her mind about the nuts and bolts of political issues. Harper has been in public service for thirty plus young years.

Thelma Harper has served as a state senator since 1991. She has chaired many committees including; Senate Government Operations Committee and a member of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, the Senate Correction Oversight Committee, and the Select Joint Committee on Children and Youth.

For eight years, Thelma Harper served as a member of the Nashville-Davidson County Metropolitan Council. She also was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992.

As a proud alumnus of TSU, Senator Harper has fought many battles for Big Blue that will never make the news. Her support of TSU keeps her engaged in many events that happens on the campus and in the community. The numerous meetings times may overlap and she maybe not please everyone but she wears grace under fire well. That is the public Senator Harper that many know.

But the woman beneath the beautiful and colorful hats that are worn literally and figuratively pales in comparison to the hats she wears behind the scenes as nurturer, consoler, and compassionate counselor. Away from legislative corridors, senate hearings, political debates about the rights of women and fighting for children, cameras, and ribbon cutting ceremonies, Senator Harper swaps her public political hats for her Miss Thelma hats. The Miss Thelma's nurturer hat is worn on Thursday nights to tutor young kids who have been labeled special needs because they need a firm but loving hand in their life to help them with school work . “Helping eight year olds keeps me young,” Senator Harper says with a laugh. That hat is also worn to read to elementary children several times a month at schools in North Nashville. The Miss Thelma’s consoler hat is worn to visit in women prison and to see the sick and shut often left behind.

The Miss Thelma's compassionate counselor hat is worn to meet with young girls who made mistakes early in life but still need to know they “uniquely and wonderfully” made in God’s eyes. The hat is not trimmed in colored judgment or scorned flowers. That special hat was worn to take a group of women on a field trip of sorts to see the play “Dream Girls” last fall. The women were treated to an impromptu meeting with the actors backstage to hear one of the lead actors confess about his painful past that lead to him spending time locked up. The meeting arranged by Miss Thelma showed the women that they too can rise above their circumstances. There are no public policy hearings on compassion and loving others. That incident was brought to my attention by one of the cast members who shared it with me. She was so touched by the meeting that she asked to remain in contact with the young women and Miss Thelma. As she told me the story, we both cried. TPAC’s “ Dream Girls” play left Nashville many months ago but the influence of that backstage encounter has remained with the women and the actors from the play.

Those hats worn by Senator Harper aka "Miss Thelma" are as vital to the good of the community and state as the legislative issues that often can be trivialized in political sound bites on the nightly news.

The hats of wife, mother, sister, aunt and businesswoman that Miss Thelma wears cannot be forgotten either. As we go about our daily lives, let’s look closer at the hats that are worn by trailblazers not on the public stage but the ones worn behind the curtains that not only will have impact today but for years to come.
(From the Big Blue Issue)

Transforming cubs into "Big Blue" Tigers

(Originally written for the Big Blue Issue)

Between my two sons, I have learned much about college life through their eyes and experiences. The TSU’s campus has changed a lot in twenty five years but the pride and love my sons feel about TSU have kept me engaged in all things Big Blue.

My eldest son’s college experiences were vastly different from my younger son’s experience. Sending one son to school that graduated not once but twice earned me my Tiger mom survival badge of honor and unofficial "Chairmama" of all blessings from the TSU community. He was a model student that stayed on target and worked various jobs while maintaining his presidential scholarship. He was involved in many activities on campus, ran track and he graduated with honors. He even pledged a fraternity. Busy young man, huh? With my proud mama badge, I boldly thought that I could produce the same results from kid number 2.

“Lord hear my cry” became my prayer of choice when my youngest son stepped on the yard. Baby boy was not a bit of trouble in high school but turned my life upside down trying to figure out what to do about his idea of college and my idea of him being in school. My drama free kid was nothing but a production from getting him enrolled, room assignments, registration, financial aid, shots and physicals…you get the picture. You name the issue, I got a time and date for it. Not one to run from problems as a family, we were not prepared for baby boy’s first year of college.

Same family, community, and college. What was the problem? Two very different young men. I think I nursed somebody too long. To be transparent, I assumed that because big brother had a model college life with few issues, his success would be duplicated just by sheer osmosis in kid number 2. My youngest son was still a baby that I had not let go. He had an easy going spirit and personality and he gave order to my life. I placed more emphasis on baby boy not getting into trouble than preparing him to live away from home. I took care of everything for him which came back to haunt me and hurt him.

Leaving home to attend college is one of the first steps many take on their journey to adulthood. Whether the school is stamped on your child’s birth certificate, across town or two thousand miles away, college life can often distract young people from an education that college offers. Preparing your child for college life should start no later than the 9th grade. Some educators have recommend starting as early as 4th grade. Teaching teens financial literacy, time management, good work habits, personal safety tips while visiting several colleges helps with transforming your college bound teen.

Making sure conversations about college life is talked about often in preparation for school is important. Not just parties and no parental supervision slants but more dialogues about responsibilities as a student. Students will not know everything but it is important that they know the school is a learning environment and not a place to goof off.

With more first generational students attending college, colleges are now having workshops to prepare parents for college life. As I learned, when your child attends college so you attend as well in many aspects. Baby boy was well connected within the TSU family but he needed more help to get focused. We weren’t afraid to pull in others for input. Learning to get paperwork in on time and teaching him to become more responsible about his education were steps to getting him on the right track. We learned he became overwhelmed easily. Overwhelmed? Really? Who knew?

If you have a young person considering college, surround them with positive role models, reasonable accountability, and make sure their focus is education and not school activities. Sometimes hearing from someone other than mom and dad can help with life adjustments. College life can be overpowering when students are not prepared academically, mentally, socially or physically. Start sooner than later and expect the unexpected. I have learned that no two kids are alike in life or in college.Transforming a cub into a Big Blue Tiger takes prayers, patience and preparation.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Doing Good in the Community

Last week, “doing good in the community” struck a chord with many. We must be willing to adjust our lens while bringing solutions that can be implemented sooner than later. Often times, servant leaders can see the issues but they need the support of others for efforts to spread the in community. They make serving others look effortless but much time, patience, and tenderness go into laboring for the greater good.

My grandfather often said, “Show me your deeds and I will show you your heart.” Let me share with you a few deeds that reveal the heart of someone who is trying to make an impact and who is trying to light a path for young girls very quietly.

At the beginning of last summer, Miss Gloria approached a group of women about mentoring young ladies. Everyone thought it was a nice idea. Gloria was dead serious. She went to work (and worked and worked) on outlining plans and activities for the girls for the school year. When we reconvened from our summer break, Gloria was ready for everyone to implement the program that we agreed we would do. (You know where this is going). In jeopardy of getting kick out of the group, I will limit the details of the fireworks behind the scenes, but I will share that a two hour meeting turned into six. “Miss Gloria” held us hostage until “she finished!” I have seen Divas show out; I was raised by several aunts, my mom, and my grandmother, so I know when to just listen and let them “finish”. Since we were not going anywhere until we agreed to agree, we agreed to move from nice idea to rolling up our sleeves.

Gloria held us accountable for taking on a project that she was very passionate about and had devoted her summer to planning activities for us to do. Since the fall, several outings have been experienced by everyone with the teen girls and their families. Last month was my turn to help out. The lesson planned was about table setting and manners. I offered to prepare lunch for their meeting. It was one of the coldest mornings in January. The Mayor’s neighborhood walking tour was scheduled and a brisk walk with our city leader was incorporated into the day. Charlotte and Carolyn also volunteered that day. Everyone in the group stepped up to the plate in some meaningful way; there was enough food and juice to feed an army for breakfast.

After the walk, the morning was spent engaging teens about manners. That was straight old school thinking and teaching. Gloria came with her table décor and finest china. She gave them a tablescape presentation that resembled a Martha Stewart’s creation. Her three helpers even asked questions and gave quick tips to remember what goes where. We also learned a few things ourselves. While talking about manners, we heard about the challenges of today’s teen.

After serving soup and salad, I packed to leave and bumped into other girls walking through the door. The day ended with lessons on walking like a lady. (Steve Harvey cannot teach that folks). When I followed up with Charlotte and Carolyn, we all mentioned how blessed we felt from that fateful day. Gloria inspired us with her dedication and we gave that precious commodity called “time” to young ladies who taught us as well. Even though the idea was Gloria, everyone shared the fruits of her planning that made it meaningful to the group.

Remembering the night we were taken hostage, Gloria was actually fighting for the good we can do in the community that is so desperately needed. She did not want us to meet with each other; she wanted us to meet with the girls. It takes a warrior to cut through cotton candy and push folks to be their best and to bring their best to the community. The seeds that are being planted in the lives of the young girls will bear fruit. As I look at photos from the Civil Rights period, young folks were often pictured with current leaders of the time. Those pictures foreshadowed their futures and showed us how an encounter can propel a person into their destiny. I have no doubt that the girls who walked with the Mayor and were taught by an activist and college professor, an attorney, and a state official on that freezing cold morning will go on to become remarkable young women in the future.

As we are seeing more and more of our culture fall by the wayside with basketball game fighting mamas and kids leaving the court to fight with mamas, we need more Glorias to be hands on examples of what a warrior means. Demeaning yourself and your community by having your entire school become synonymous with mayhem because of the actions of a few is not going to be an issue that celebrity “do gooders” will touch. Mamas and daddies cannot come to the school to discuss the situation, because the parents are trying to post bail and are banned from school properties! This is not a local problem, this spectacle is happening around the country.

Sports have long been a spring board for our young men to go to college. When some have come up short academically, but performed well in sports, they were given another avenue to enter college. Now, when your school is banned from playing sports for a few years, where does that energy and drive go now? This is not criticism or judgment; this is reality folks.

As we continue to celebrate Black History, let us not be shy about resurrecting old school thinking and teaching that can be used 365 days a year. My grandparents might sound primitive by today’s standard but their hands on approached included the little things like teaching manners and respect of person at every turn. They did not hesitate to pull in others to keep us in line. Those lessons were backed up by a pop to the lip when rules were not followed. “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” were some of our first words. Women like Gloria, Carolyn, and Charlotte attended games and would have taken pleasure in whipping us if we acted up.

I know we are living in different times and physical violence is becoming a pastime but we need more warriors now than ever to remind us of our past, to help our present day young folks look forward to having a meaningful future. We can make a difference, one child at a time.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mary Harvey is Making Black History by Starting to Think Like a Man

This is the first week of Black folks’ holiest time of the year, Black History Month. As Civil Rights heroes’ sacrifices are remembered, Blacks and white folks are at their best and unified. The finest and brightest are trotted out for twenty eight days before mayhem resumes March 1. White folks give Blacks all the air time they are going to get for the year in February. I was going to blog about the many local unsung heroes that work tirelessly every day of the year to honor the past, deal with present day challenges, and help prepare young people for the future who often hidden in the community. My thoughts were thrown out after l heard Tom Joyner tell Mary Harvey that her ex-hubby, radio host Steve Harvey, was “doing good in the community”. The ugly history of Steve and Mary Harvey’s marriage that has spilled over to You Tube, Twitter, blogs, and now morning drive time is history of sorts that reveals much about the community of color.

I have often shared with individuals that greatest influences in my life were my grandparents. I was raised by country people who believed strongly that what is said and done in their house, stayed in their house. But living in Nashville has taught me that my grandparents thinking come with a price. Interacting with individuals with bottled emotions from yesteryear has led to a subgroup of folks who can come unglued socially because they have unresolved wounds and hurts. Black folks DONOT embrace counseling; they are told by church leaders to pray about it. So many go to church and shout. Steve and Mary Harvey’s very public feud is a byproduct of many issues that face the community that is glossed over by Essence cover stories.

Before I go any further, let me confess, Steve Harvey is an unimpressive comic to me and his wife shows a martyr’s loyalty- till-I- die mentality that I loathe. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the viral video “he said, she said” saga that has gone mainstream.

On January 31, Mary Harvey sat in Tom Joyner’s studio to tell him why she has gone public with her private family drama. Tom is Steve Harvey’s morning show competitor and friend. Tom waded into family counseling waters by declaring:
“I did not invite you on the show to continue talking about your personal business. There are more things that are of paramount importance to our community. We want to deal with this and move on."
He stressed how important Steve was to the community and the community did not need to be distracted by their public spectacle. Hmm. Aren’t you glad Tom does not have a counseling degree? Anyway, Tom said, “I just hate mess”. Never mind the fact that Tom discusses mess everyday on the show except his closes friends’ mess. “Oh, oh, oh, that is how it is on the Tom Joyner Morning Show”. I love Tom even when I do not agree with him. Mary Harvey stood her ground with Tom and replied,
“It took a long time for me to get to this point. The reason I’ve been silent this entire time was because I did take into consideration what it would do to both of our families, what it would do to the community. Keeping quiet hasn’t served me physically. It hasn’t served our son. I have suffered physically because of it. I’m not in good health right now.”
Tom offered to broker a truce with her and Steve.

Mary Harvey said her speaking out was not about receiving another settlement, “This is not about money,” she repeated several times. She wants an apology. She went on to say,
“I think the apology should be given to the women who have been deceived into buying the books and who have perceived him as being a pillar of the community.”
(I would want a refund if I bought one of his books but that’s me). She went on to say that Steve’s treatment of her was equivalent to rape. I don’t know if she has been raped but that was her comparison.

Steve and Mary were divorced in 2005. They were together for 16 years, married for ten of those years. They have a 13 year old son who lives with Steve full time and is not in contact with his mother. Steve is married to his third wife, Marjorie, who Mary said was his mistress when they were married. Mary claims she suffered mental and physical abuse from Steve. After reaching her breaking point, she left the marriage. She also states Steve’s lawyer cheated her in settlement from the divorce. They used the same family lawyer.(That was dumb). She mentioned the number of pills she was taking because of numerous health and mental issues. What was not said on the TJMS was why Mary decided to go the You Tube exposure route and posted videos that millions can’t stop viewing. Steve and his third wife posed for January Essence cover and in the article he miscalculated Mary’s silence. Here is Mary's statement about the cover story.

My name was in that article. The article said in Steve’s words that ‘I’m finally happy and that I haven’t been this happy since 2005 and I was in the company of the wrong person.’ My name mentioned in any way was offensive to me; why mention me at all? I would think that he and Marjorie have plenty to talk about, as opposed to bringing me into an article that has nothing to do with me.

Steve Harvey is a household name, makes millions from his clothing line and two bestselling books, TV and church appearances, has a pending deal with Oprah, a radio show in 60 markets and God knows what other revenue streams. Steve has a team of lawyers and staff to do his bidding but he could not resist making a dig about his ex-wife. Hell has no fury like a woman that has been belittled in Essence! Mary decided to show the world the other side of Steve Harvey. The future mogul, author, radio host, family man and relationship guru family issues did not stay in the house. Penniless and broke, Mary sat before a two dollar camera and posted three You Tube videos. That was how she came to everyone’s attention including Steve Harvey’s legal team. Because of the videos, Steve Harvey is now suing Mary to regain his Essence cover story image back. Sounds like Mary has started to think like a man. She has no lawyers advising her or agents booking her but she is making the rounds and is in high demand. When I heard her in January, I was reminded of the power of a dam’s broken levee. Rarely can someone out swim a dam overflowing it banks. The ugliness of Harveys’ union and divorce is out there. Their real life mayhem gives us a peep into Black culture issues that usually get swept under the rug. So what does all of this have to do with us? Nothing. But there is much to learn from this sad epic.

Nothing is wrong with highlighting success. But as a people, we idolize individuals quickly and will label an idiot a community leader without hesitation. We are a forgiving group that will overlook obvious character flaws for the sake of a feel good moment. Folks will shut down Black women who are traditionally the backbone of the family and the laborers in the community if one dares to challenge Black folks’ leadership identification system while Black women have been trained subconsciously to be the sacrificial lambs for the family, the community or a man’s reputation. Remember how folks turned on the women who were underage girls at the time over R. Kelly? Or the very recent Bishop Long’s scandal that started with muscle shirt texts? The cries from the saints were deafening. R. Kelly is back performing and folks are still packing the pews at New Birth. R. Kelly is supposedly writing a book. Folks ignore the fact that he has publicly admitted he is illiterate.

Maybe history can be made by looking at the criteria for what “doing good in the community” means. An honest examination of our value system is long overdue. There are ways to bring up community leaders without creating monsters. Every group has hero worshipitis but when it happens with color people, the backlash is felt by all. No one is perfect but we must quit playing crazy when it comes to dealing with real issues that we face daily. As we honor the heroes of past, let’s study more about their characters that made them the men and women that we should celebrate 365 days a year. Hopefully, next Black History Month, we can celebrate by using You tube to talk about soaring graduation rates among Black males, decrease in teen pregnancies, an increase in folks being hired in our community and more entrepreneurs living their dreams . Now that would be news worthy of being highlighted and truly honor the proud heritage of those who have broken so many barriers regarding race relations in our country throughout the year.

The Harvey's photo credit: I don't know but I couldn't find very many of her smiling
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