Sept 3rd, 2015

This is my response to a birthday shout-out from Shanik, a former student of mine from when I was teaching high school history. Shanik has just become a high school teacher herself. She offers me her words of encouragement and admiration. Nowadays, we inspire each other.


Via Whatsapp, I say:
I’m asked everyday if it was worth spending so much time in NYC under the pressure of the DOE (Department of Education). Sometimes, I get bitter, just a little bit, thinking about that awful environment and how it had me feeling stuck. I was consumed by negativity.
But you, woman now, reaffirm that I didn’t waste time, I didn’t defer my dream (to live overseas), I didn’t linger cuz I was scared of letting go of security. There was a job to do. Still is, even though it ain’t for me right now. I got a chance to make a connection with at least one more brilliant mind. The job gave me that. The job gave me you. So keep on! You flap your wings and may you never tire.
You’ll be better at it than I for sure. And I will celebrate you the whole way through.



Let me be very clear: I believe that the joys and merits of my teaching experience back in NYC, back at home, could ever be matched anywhere in the world. I am usually beaming with pride when my old New York City students and I cross paths again, and they spout off something amazing about their lives to me. Jillian, Shanik’s classmate, flew to South Africa on a business trip and aloud me to host her and her colleagues for an evening. How’s that for a full circle!

Kemar just hit me on facebook with words of gratitude. He is leading his own consulting firm. And Joel is a principal of his own school. The list goes on. Across the board, I had no flipping clue in who I was investing my sweat and, on quite a few occasions, tears. But I’m grateful to feel that challenging them when they challenged me made a difference in their lives. It was an investment in my home community. It is by God’s grace that I get the rare privilege of hearing from their mouths that I laid a helping hand on them, and perhaps nudged them in the direction of life success—however they so live up to it. And I encourage any educator, especially educators of color, to start their work at home.

I have much for which to be grateful. Had I never meant it before, nothing like a dirty back pack, miles to go, and a deep whiff of these roses to help me appreciate them now.
I’m grateful for…Love. It fills my cup and runneth over. I am fortunate to for love and kindness to find me no matter the hole I dropped myself in. I’ve been a true recipient of so much generosity this year. I leaned on so many others, borrowed their air and they gave it to me willingly. To confess the debt I feel to you all would denigrate this as my offering of gratitude. I thank you thank you thank you all for your homes, your beds, your meals, your contributions. My journey would’ve been empty without you.Health.I wanted a full medical exam before I gave up the security of health insurance. To be healthy is a gift. It is not promised, and it is not ever lasting. I am grateful to be well, full bodied, and abled. It has made carrying my apple green Deuter 60+10liter bag manageable every step of the way. I will fight for my health as time and age conspire with nature to take it from me. And I will honor all that I have been given, conventional flaws and all, with intention. Run. Eat well (as best I can). Aim to be the fittest me. And fo’ sho’ drink (mostly water) and be merry.Time.

To witness God. To hear my own voice above the noise. To be young and to have enjoyed it. To fall in love, then out of it, then back in again. To visit my loved ones. To know timelessness. To live my dreams (big ones and small). To question and to seek answers. To harness the wind and be wild.


Intuition is God’s voice within. I have let that voice speak to me above what my heart and mind have had to say. And it was always right. Intuition is the perfect strike between integrity and desire.


My freedom looks like rolling over in my bed in the somewhere out there, twisting my heels and ankles, and kicking my legs cuz it feels just that good to do whatever the hell I want. My god, it has been delicious. Just me, by myself a lot of the time. No plan. No demands. No imposed objectives. No shoulds. Only coulds! And say thank you, thank you, thank you to the designer of life for letting me seize this opportunity. How unAmerican of me, I know? What kind of working class black child am I? Psssssssht! That’s me.


Undoubtedly, the healing properties of water are unmatched by anything on this earth. My sister is a nurse, and she says that her one goal is to get black people to just drink more water. Drinking water heals. Staring at water also heals. God, I stared at oceans this year. Naomi, my kitesurfing wind-sister from Australia, and I just watched the Indian Ocean for hours. It was actually how we spent our last morning together before I left. Fried puff-puffs. Coffee. And sparkling clear blue water. I just needed one more look, just a moment to drink that water in with my eyes. And the women of Brazil hugged and prayed for me as I wept in the ocean on New Years 2017. “Yemanja”, I said, “please show me the way.” Is it me…or do people who live by water just seem to exist in a permanent state of chill? I’m grateful for discovering my love for water.

My American Accent.

Here me out. Before I catch a lecture from brutha man or an eye roll from sistah girl, try to feel me when I say white supremacy consumes the world, and our fancy pants American accent is a gift card to shop. With my mouth closed, I am received like a pauper, a subordinate. I’ve tested this theory in many places on multiple continents. I would be skipped while standing on lines, and overtly shoo’ed away. Only later, upon hearing my Anglo voice, I receive a double-take and consequently rapid service for mistreatment. I’ve been dismissed entirely by retail workers, later to be escorted by managers around the luxury items sections. I’ve been met by frustrated chefs who assumed I “must have” confused my own order, to then be sent bottles of champagne out of remorse for miscommunication on the part of the waitstaff. :/ Sadly, the result is even more dramatic on the African continent, though all except Ethiopia (thank you King Haile Selassi). My Anglo American accent changes things out there. And for those of us who can admit that it alters the dynamics of living a black life IN America to our advantage, let us not forget this is a very white card for access to white power. Take all that and raise it by the power of the Red, White and Blue, which IS the stamp we are given whether we like it our not, and picture it at work in every encounter you have with the countless others who’ve been consuming white American supremacy by the spoonful for generations. Yeh, it’s a tough pill to swallow. But it’s the god honest truth.