Hello family!

I need your help. I need you to pause long enough to do three things:

  1. Read this post and the call to action below
  2. Contribute something, anything, to help fulfill this request and the dream of a brilliant teenager, and
  3. Share this with everyone that you know so that we can make this dream come true TODAY! He’s only a few hundred dollars away from reaching his goal. We CAN do this!

Are you ready?

Let’s make a dream come true…

Help Kylen Visit His Dream School

$330 of $700 goal

Raised by 4 people in 9 days
Kylen is a senior in the San Diego Unified School District who holds a 4.5 GPA. He is a trilingual scholar-athlete who has earned achievements in track and field and football. He speaks Spanish, Mandarin, and English and has worked diligently his entire academic career to be accepted into his top choice college. Kylen plans to pursue a career in the field of medicine to study neuroscience and recently learned he has been accepted into his dream school. He was invited to participate in the official student admit day and is now seeking support so he may participate. Funding will go toward the costs of airfare and incidental expenses for him to travel across the country to attend.
Please donate to help make Kylen’s dream a reality: gf.me/u/p9xwkx

Please share this link so others can support Kylen’s dream: gf.me/u/p9xwkx

I thank you in advance for your part in helping Kylen’s dream come true.

I know that he will shine and do amazing things in college. I know that through his service of others, he will be a brilliant leader, and a tremendous contributor to society at large. Kylen is excellence-driven. He is not just our future, he is our now!

Go make your dreams come true Kylen!!!

~Natasha L. Foreman

I’m so excited to hear and see the announcement from Valeisha Butterfield Jones, promoting her new YouTube channel, “Valeisha’s Desk” that will begin streaming in January 2019.

Valeisha’s been delaying this idea for over two years, and with a lot of prayer and loving encouragement she has accepted the journey to share her story and daily walk to help others along their journey.

I was excited to share my two cents with her several weeks ago when she posed the question on her Instagram account of “should I do this?” My answer was a bold “yes” and then I explained my reasoning. I even admitted that my encouragement and loving push to her was also my self-talk to stop delaying my calling to do and be more. She read my comment and replied with thanks. I then crossed my fingers and toes, with hope that enough positive responses would cement in her mind the urgency of taking this big leap. Eventually there were tons of people commenting and supporting her idea, and I was giddy with anticipation.

Now some of you may be scratching your heads and wondering “who is this woman, and why does Natasha want me to watch a promo video about her?”

If you don’t know Valeisha Butterfield Jones, let me provide a very quick bio:

She has been an executive with Google since 2016, where she first served as Head of Black Community Engagement. This year she accepted a promotion to become the Global Head of Women and Black Community Engagement for Google.

For the past 10 years she has also served as the CEO of Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN)—a nonprofit that uplifts and mentors women working in entertainment while striving to promote positive images of women in society.

Her prior professional journey led her through careers in politics and entertainment serving in various roles such as: working for the U.S. Department of Commerce (under the Obama Administration), EA to the president of HBO Sports, and working her way up from intern to Executive Director at Rush Communications (entertainment and fashion mogul, Russell Simmons, media firm). These are just a few of the stops along Valeisha’s professional journey.

On the personal front: Valeisha’s married to NBA star Dahntay Jones, and they have two super awesome sons. Many of us in this big ole’ world look forward to watching this family grow, shine, climb, and serve together. I know that I look forward to witnessing snippets of their life.

So without further ado, please check out Valeisha’s promo video and then subscribe to her channel. Thanking you in advance!

~Natasha

I’m honored to share the video below of a brilliant man who is also my cousin.

Mr. Harold Wallace III is my paternal third cousin, who I knew when he was a baby and small child. We lost touch as he grew into young adulthood and manhood, but thankfully a few years ago we reconnected on Facebook.

Harold spoke at the TEDx that was held on March 27, 2018 at Pittsburgh State University (PSU) in Kansas. The theme was “Diversity in Our World“. The title of Harold’s speech is “The Everyday Struggle: Switching Codes For Survival“.

Harold shared a few nuggets of information that I already knew, like the cities where he grew up in California, that he was an intelligent child, and that he earned his MBA and is a staff member at PSU. But the bulk of what he shared about himself I did not know and apparently neither did his mother (for he apologized in the beginning for what he was now sharing publicly).

My eyes welled up with tears to hear him recall childhood memories of violence that he witnessed and experienced firsthand on the streets in L.A. County. I had no clue of the survival techniques he had to utilize to not become a negative statistic.

How in the world did he thrive in an environment created to destroy?

The only reasoning that I can come up with as to why Harold survived and thrived when so many didn’t and don’t is because:

1) God’s angels kept their hands on him and he did not resist their guidance and redirection, and

2) His family’s love and support, and

3) His love of education and learning kept his mind and heart focused on bigger and greater, and

4) Harold mastered the art and science of code-switching (which he explains in this TEDx Talk).

This recipe doesn’t always work for all people, but it clearly worked for Harold.

What Harold defines as “code-switching” is what I grew up mastering (and helped raise my sister to understand) as “mask switching“. I’ve been doing it for almost 40 years now. It’s become my way of life. Harold shared an example of another master code-switcher, former US President Barack Obama.

To hear brief examples of how Harold has had to code-switch and especially now as an adult, I teared up again. It takes a great deal of effort and energy, but he does it every single day in his attempt to bring and maintain “harmony” in every environment he enters. Please watch the video to learn more.

Something else that Harold shared that I never knew and never thought to ask him, was why he pursued a career at a university. Harold is the Assistant Director of Student Diversity Programs at PSU. To hear his reason and passion for what he does and why, I smiled brightly—because it’s similar to why I pursued and am now a college professor. You have to hear Harold tell his story in this TEDx.

I love Harold’s solution to our diversity needs and issues in the US, especially, as it relates to our current cultural climate. It’s brilliant. It’s simple, well…to a willing participant. Any person who wants to be valued and respected should try out Harold’s approach and see how it helps to change how you see and treat yourself and others.

Please watch this awesome video of Harold. I’m not just saying it’s awesome because it’s my cousin speaking. I’m saying it’s awesome because the message shared is powerful, moving, compelling, engaging, and encouraging. There is a takeaway from his message, there’s a call to action without the firm ask; there’s an indirect challenge to see if we all have it in us and are willing to L.I.E.

What’s L.I.E.? You have to watch the video to find out! After you watch it, please share this with others and feel free to comment below this post. Thank you.

~Natasha

Please watch this video.

The message shared is bold, deep, poignant, and personal.

She will make you laugh and cry, want to shout and sing, and test out your lyrical skills. She will make you think about life, self, and those around you—near and far.

It’s a reminder to all of us.

You won’t be disappointed I promise you.

Listen to the words of Tramisha Poindexter and then pause to self-reflect. Make sure that you click the “like” button so that we can send this young woman a message loud and clear.

Thank you.

~Natasha

So far we have discussed the overarching ways in which we attack each other, the phenomenon of baby mama-baby daddy syndrome, and today we will roll out the fourth part that must be discussed in greater detail than I can from this medium. But at least we can get the ball rolling, so-to-speak.

I said a lot over the past three days. Hopefully none of my words injured anyone. Hopefully the tough love was felt as more love than tough. It’s difficult to peel back the layer on self, as it’s much easier to peel back the layer on someone else. When you’re hurt and angry it’s easier to point out the flaws in the other person, to point out what they did and said wrong—but it’s extremely difficult to self-reflect and “check” ourselves.

I started these conversations because it’s important that we realize that this toxic environment has been growing out-of-control for more than 60 years. The seeds were planted during slavery in the US, it grew roots after emancipation, it sprouted during the 1920s and by the 1950s we saw more and more trees forming. By the 1970s we had woods lining our nation. Now we’re in the 2000s and we have full blown forests.

The reason we must have a conversation about each other, amongst each other, is because we represent each other. No matter who we engage and interact with, we still represent the other half of this dynamic. We share cultural and social truths that are unique to our people.

The only way for others who are non-Black to understand us in whole or in part is through dialogue with and observation of us. What we say to each other, how we treat each other, is how non-Blacks learn to speak to and treat us. It’s human nature yet we’re offended when we experience it.

We have a hyper-sensitivity because of the hundreds of years of past and present abuse that we have suffered at the hands of civilian, corporate, and government oppressors.

There’s a saying that “you save your worst behavior for the one closest to you” and that is not merely the one that you are in a familial, dating or marital relationship with, but one that you share the same “roots” with. Black people have been taught, trained, molded, and brainwashed to hate ourselves and to hate other Black people.

We have been brainwashed to believe that certain skin tones, hair textures, lip sizes, body frames, eye colors, and hair lengths are better or worse than others.

The slave masters tactic of pitting light-skinned versus dark-skinned is still present today.

We’re still buying into those twisted beliefs.

The tactic of turning the Black man and woman against each other, using sex (often rape), breaking up the family (selling one of them), and other methods, is still present today.

But when will we individually and collectively say, “no more” and mean it? When will we stop subscribing to past lies masqueraded as truths? When will we stop buying into the stereotypes that were created as propaganda mechanisms to divide? When will we stop perpetuating the lies that even our elders told because they didn’t know what they didn’t know—but we now know the truth.

When will being sick and tired of being sick and tired turn into a radical change of healing, acceptance, growth, and love?

To Black Men and Women I Say…

Ladies and gentlemen, brothas and sistas, we need to cut each other some major slack. We need to heal and we need to find a place of solitude within each other to help with that healing. Or we will continue to self-destruct and the only people that will be left to blame is you and me.

Let’s take ownership for the roles that we have individually and collectively played in the slow destruction of our people, families, and relationships.

Yes, others manipulated many things.

Yes, others introduced elements of mass destruction (drugs and guns) but we made and make the decision to use these things against ourselves and against each other.

Just like on the plantation, our minds are still enslaved.

Today we pimp each other, we serve death by drugs, we take the liberty of ending each others lives through the pulling of the trigger, stabbing of a knife, stomping of a foot, punching of a fist.

We have some harsh realities that we must take ownership for…

Today, Black women are raped by Black men more than by any other ethnic group.

The vast majority of Black drug addicts get their poison from Black drug dealers.

There are more Black deaths by Black hands (and by weapons used by Black hands), than by anyone else. Before the 1950s this was not the case.

We can guesstimate the number of lives lost to the periods of slavery (including the Middle Passage) and if you compared those numbers to the death toll caused by our own efforts from the 1970s to 2018 alone (we could go back farther but we don’t need to) those numbers would be staggering.

It doesn’t negate or make light of the death toll of Black people caused by non-Blacks and law enforcement.

What I’m saying is, why are we not mortified by the lives taken by our own people?

We have gang members and drug dealers wiping out our people. We live next door to them and do and say nothing.

We must police ourselves.

We must protect our families and neighborhoods. Sometimes that means protecting them from our own family.

Mothers need to stop protecting their deviant and criminal child. If your child harmed someone they must face the punishment of their offense. Mothers should be escorting their children to the principal’s office, to the police station, etc. When you shield them you only enable the mania that is brewing and waiting to be unleashed.

Mothers, if dad isn’t around to be the rock of your family then you need to turn to the village to step into that gap. And then you must rise up with the strength and courage that God gave you and gives you, and you must declare and enforce the rules of your home. If by chance dad is available to help lead your children, don’t be a fool–don’t be that ignorant baby mama–let that man in and let him help you raise your children right.

Reclaim your family. Don’t let your child be the menace we all fear and grow to resent and hate.

We must end this ignorant belief that “I ain’t no snitch” and “snitches get stitches“.

So it’s okay for Black people to terrorize and kill us, but when someone else takes our lives then we want to protest and demand change.

Law enforcement can barely solve crimes in our communities because we refuse to cooperate with them, yet we’re quick to dial 9-1-1.

Why are we not picketing and protesting outside of the homes and buildings of drug dealers and gang members?

Honestly, we act like we have Stockholm Syndrome.

Sexism and Misogyny in Our Community

We say and do nothing about the Black women and girls who are kidnapped, raped, abused, pimped and trafficked.

Are they not valuable enough to fight for and defend?

We read and see news footage of Black male celebrities who victimize Black girls and women, and we side with the celebrity. We rationalize his actions because we’re a fan of what he does in his professional life.

Our lack of outrage is why there’s no outrage from non-Blacks. Now let’s be clear, the moment the victim is white, the outrage from non-Blacks will be never-ending. They see the value in their women and girls, even if not fully (but you can’t victimize them).

Are Black women and girls not valuable? Is that why we are not valued? We already know that society values females less than males, but we value Black females even less.

Why do we celebrate calling and being called “bitches” and “hoes”?

Men should cringe and stop any man, woman, or child who uses those words to describe a female. Women and girls should immediately stop, correct, and redirect any person who feels entitled to refer to them using those words. It’s not acceptable, by anyone—not even our friends and family.

None of my friends or family members can say “bitch” or “ho” in relation or reference to me. Not even in anger.

We need to stop this mentality of “well I will just make lemonade out of it” by taking words meant to harm and then trying to flip them to make them fit and feel right to us. That’s distorting the lemon-lemonade premise and guess what? This ain’t lemonade. It’s just lemon with a splash of water.

We do it with “nigger”. Because we say “nigga” (a switch of two letters) we have convinced ourselves that this version is better and more acceptable, but only when said by another Black person.

Okay. Okay. Okay.

Whatever coping mechanism that we want to use to take away the power of that word.

But it can’t be applied with “bitch” and “ho”.

Those are gender-specific terms that we have flipped to also apply and reference to men (which enrages men), to balance, and take the weight out of their meanings and inferences.

But women can’t then say, “we can use these words but men can’t use them“.

So that same coping skill switcheroo does not and will not ever apply. We live in a sexist world where women and girls are always only seen as receivers not doers.

If men don’t want to be called bitches and hoes then they need to stop using those words, and they need to speak up and speak out about other people using those words.

We must protect ourselves and each other, and that means that sometimes that means protecting us from us.

What Are We Going to do to Resolve This Problem?

How will we leverage these tools of destruction to be lessons of redemption? Yes, we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.

We have proven right those who enslaved our ancestors that we can be easily manipulated and controlled, we can be taught to devalue ourselves and each other, we can be extinguished as a race, we will never be united, and we are not as wise and intelligent as we profess—for if we were then we would see clearly that the shackles aren’t actually locked…

Free yourselves. Free others. Lift yourself up. Lift up others. Love yourselves. Love each other. Take off those shackles!

Stop Limiting Love to Black Love. Let People Love Who They Want!

This one may cause some anger to spew at me, but please listen with your heart.

The vast majority of Black people, especially African Americans, are affiliated with a religion that is based on and teaches love, inclusion, forgiveness, repentance, and atonement. If you are Christian, you have been raised to believe that Jesus said love everyone as you would love yourself. Jesus did not discriminate or hate.

So why are we so bitter when we see a Black man with any other woman except a Black one?

Why are Black men bitter when they see a Black woman with a man who isn’t also Black?

It’s especially true if the other person is white. Why?

The hurt and anger caused by our enslavement and by the hundreds of years of being told “you ain’t nothing”, surfaces to the top. The more than 100 years after being emancipated to earn the right to vote as a citizen, to have the right to eat and drink next to the same people whose families not-far-removed enslaved our people—those memories and that pain surfaces to the top. Knowing the history of Black men being lynched for looking at white women, speaking to white women, touching a white woman, and having sex with a white woman—even 50 years ago—those feelings surface and sting. Knowing that white slave masters raped and oftentimes impregnated Black female slaves is something that churns in the stomachs of our men.

But…

Knowing all of this does not change the fact that God, no matter what name you call Him, commanded us to love. He didn’t say “only love people of your race” or “only love people of your religion“. No, He said that we’re to love.

That Black man who is dating or married to that non-Black woman is not less of a man or less Black because of who he loves. The same is true of the Black woman. I’m so tired of hearing people spew hate, sounding like the racists that enslaved you, and making absolutely no sense.

Stop the rhetoric of “watering down our race“. Most of you don’t even know where your ancestors came from before being shipped to the US.  Most of you haven’t even taken an ethnic DNA test to see your racial makeup. All of this talk about “watering down” will have many of you shell shocked when you realize how not “pure” you are.

Some of you are walking around with so many races in your DNA that you look more like a pot of gumbo.

If Blackness is merely skin tone, then we’re all in trouble. Some of us are the same skin complexion of Latinos, Asians, and other olive and brown-skinned people. You’re ignorantly obsessing over the color of someone’s skin. You’re anti-white, yet your DNA most likely ties you to white ancestors. Some of you have issues with Mexicans and Latinos, yet some of you probably have their blood running through your veins. You have issues with Asians and don’t even know why—-but would be shocked to find even a small percentage of Asian DNA in you.

You sound just like your slave masters. You sound just like those hate mongers of the Jim Crow era. You sound just like the racists of the 1960s. You’re filled with so much hate that it is killing you and destroying our people. It’s not our “race-mixing” that is destroying us, it’s your ignorance that divides, turns away—and ultimately destroys us.

It’s all just ignorance and it goes against everything you’re taught in religion.

Love sees no color, religion, gender, race, or nationality. Love has no limits.

Love freely. Love whomever you want. Stop judging people for who they love.

I can tell you one thing, if I’m attracted to someone I’m going to get to know them—I don’t care about the color of their skin or the country where they originated. I’m going to love who loves me.

To All Humans I Say…

Let’s all be mindful of the things that we do and say, the biases we possess, the beliefs that we hold to be indisputable truths, and the stereotypes and labels that we perpetuate—and the impact that all of our words and actions have on others.

We can divide or unite. It is our choice, individually and collectively.

I can say that it has never been a time that one group of people stood strong without others supporting them in some way. Even in religious texts you can read stories of people from other tribes, religions or ethnic groups being moved and inspired to lend a hand, to provide refuge or resources for another groups freedom, safety, etc. Free yourselves. Free others. Lift yourself up. Lift up others. Love yourselves. Love each other. Take off those shackles!

What do you want to talk about next? Comment below.

Love,

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A few moments ago I was reviewing my list of students who I had sent “life vests” and “life rafts” to in an effort to save them from themselves.

Let me explain.

Some of my students take on a weighted course load and find it more difficult than they expected to juggle school, work, family, and a social life. This is especially the case if they take a hybrid or online course, and then when you add that the course is with me, the stakes really get high.

Now don’t cringe.

I’m not a mean or difficult instructor. There’s balance with me. I’m firm and assertive yet I’m always open for negotiation. I pour myself into my classes because it is my mission to give my students enough information that becomes applied knowledge, that helps them in school, work, and in life. For me, it’s more than the textbooks that they read. I don’t want them memorizing and regurgitating information. I want to see and hear how they applied what was taught to them. I want to see their growth and help support their academic and professional needs. I want to provide them with as many tools and resources as I can; so yes, I’m extremely engaged in my classes. So no, the course work is not easy. There are no easy-A’s in my class. You will earn whatever grade that you receive.

As I tell my students:

Your grade is your paycheck and your GPA is your credit score“.

As an instructor, I’m also serious about meeting deadlines but I’m flexible in providing extensions to those who get clobbered or blindsided by life. The reality is, we all get clobbered and blindsided from time-to-time.

Someone who hasn’t needs to be studied closely.

How can I make mistakes and forget deadlines, yet punish my team for doing the same? Is that not hypocritical? The “do as I say not as I do” rule that our parents embedded in our minds is why we have as many problems in this world. We all simply wait until we gain the power to enforce that same rule on others. It’s ridiculous.

As a college instructor I run my classrooms much like a business. I inform my students that for the length of the term or semester, they are to conduct themselves as though this is a corporation, they are managers, and I am their senior manager. But as a servant leader, I am not here to bark orders and reign supreme over them; I’m also not here to hold their hands and coddle them. They are not babies or small children.

I am here to serve them, empower them, and help to elevate them to the next level.

I encourage them to respectfully challenge the textbooks and readings, and yes, even me. Their minds will only sharpen with critical thinking and by testing and applying tools and skills that they have acquired. I also make sure to frequently ask for feedback and evaluations on how much they are learning and applying from my classes, as well as how well they believe that I am managing and leading them. I frequently ask them to tell me how I can best support their learning and growth needs.

I try to intervene with students who risk falling below a “C”. I don’t want my students to fail my class. Not because of managerial pressures from the higher-ups. Not because of any of the reasons and excuses that most would assume. I don’t want my students to fail because it means that somehow I failed them. It is my responsibility as their manager-leader to help guide them. Just as I would for an employee that I don’t want to see fired or to watch go through the stages of “burn-out”. If I see “red flags” early enough I can step in and provide guidance as to how my students can improve or how they can withdraw from the class (by deadlines) and take it at a later date when life isn’t clobbering them so hard. Usually one of these two interventions work.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

There are some students who choose the chartered path that they know will lead to failure, and no matter how much I attempt to help them help themselves, they are content to splash around in that ocean while watching the life vest and raft float away.

So today as I reviewed my list of students who continue to drown in this academic ocean, refusing to use either or both the vest and the raft that I threw to them weeks ago, I ran across an old email from a student who is failing one of my classes. Weeks ago this person said that they wanted to do well in my class and that they would improve—they  just needed a strategy to do so. I provided the student with the strategy and the deadline extensions that they needed to meet in order to bring their grade up to a “C” or better.

I’m always aiming for better but I won’t force greatness on anyone who would rather be average or below. Everyone should be free to choose.

Weeks later this student still has not completed the past due work and sadly they haven’t completed any current work, yet they continue to log into the course room–most likely so that their attendance is tracked so they don’t lose financial aid and other benefits. Yes, I have students who are motivated enough to log into class to not lose their financial aid, but they aren’t motivated enough to do the work, to pass the class, to keep their financial aid. It’s a baffling logic that they operate by in their parallel universe.

Okay I should stop with my sarcasm.

There is a portion of my email message that I typed to this student that I truly believe needs to be shared with others, with you. Someone out there needs to read these few lines below, because maybe it will be the added layer that helps to snatch them out of their “funk”, their “brain fog”, their whatever is holding them back and keeping them down.

Or maybe it won’t. But I’m sharing anyway.

…your dreams and goals in life are only achieved through the efforts you make. No one will give you anything of worth simply because you show up. You must put in the work and earn the things that you desire. Those that think that greatness will just magically come to them will always find themselves cast to the side, because greatness requires boldness—it requires commitment and dedication despite and because of the odds. 

You must choose if whether you want to be good, great, average, mediocre, exceptional, or just “blah”. Your actions and efforts will align and reflect accordingly. I believe that you have the potential to be at any level that you set your eyes, mind, and heart to achieve. 

If you aim low then you will always fall below that line. If you aim high and run your well-paced race, you may fall short of the desired point but you landed much higher than if you had aimed low to begin with.

Where are you aiming?

What efforts are you making to get there?

No one can do this for you, only you can!

I hope that my student gets what I was trying to convey in my email. I hope that it helps to snatch them out of their pit and motivates them to run, walk, crawl or even roll to the victory line. They may not cross in first place, but they will cross. Every race we start we’re expected to finish.

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.