What Are the Stories of Your Petals?

Welcome to Native American Heritage Month honoring those who are contributing now, and have always contributed to society. I send special love to all  Mvskoke (Muscogee/Creek) Peoples, as my family has both African and Mvskoke roots. Take a moment to learn more about the various Native Peoples who have honored the lands in the Americas for thousands of years.

In the spirit of examining the contributions of the past and the present, today’s newsletter is inspired by the prolific and profound works from the Poetic Powerhouses Nikki Giovanni and Tupac Shakur.


As I have written previously about creating a Love Space in order to help sustain us, I am practicing while trying not to sound too preachy. I have been actively surrounding myself with writings of Black Womxn authors. I am seeking advice as well as admonishment from their words. And as is the essence of Black Womxnhood, they are speaking life into me and into my work.

The Powerhouse: Nikki Giovanni. Image Source: American Liberties Magazine, 2017.

I was listening to a rendition of Nikki Giovanni’s piece honoring Tupac Shakur and the posthumous publication of his works in the book “A Rose that Grew from Concrete.” Tupac, never one to mince words or hide his personal development journey, drops this gem:

You see, you wouldn’t ask why the rose that grew from concrete had damaged petals. On the contrary, we would all celebrate its tenacity. We would all love its will to reach the sun. Well, we are all roses – this is the concrete – and these are my damaged petals. Don’t ask me why, thank God [expletive], ask me how!

Tupac Shakur
A Hip Hop offering that honors  and features Tupac’s words and Nikki Giovanni’s poetry. Trigger Warning: Tupac uses the N-word towards the end of the video. 

Are you getting the feels, yet? No? Ok, wait for it…

Tupac’s words then mix with Nikki’s thoughts about embracing change:

“A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is;  once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.”

As I hear Tupac’s truth through his beautiful metaphor of the rose that grew from concrete, while taking in both Nikki’s associated poem and the quote about change; I am led to the only question I have for us: What are the stories of your petals? This question is aligned with the newsletter that asked: “Do you know how much power your story holds?” Understandably, not everyone is ready to scream their stories from the rooftops. What I am suggesting is that you scream your beautifully complicated stories to an audience of one: Yourself. Looking at the rose that you are/are becoming (Quick Reality Check: Roses have seasons when they bloom and rest), what marvels do your petals hold?

Ok, so technically that’s two questions, but it’s not 7!

Fam, I want to encourage you to sit with your petals and allow them to help you re-member “…your will to reach the sun” and enjoy all the parts of who you are, while learning about the new world we are in. Please know that I will be somewhere doing the same!

In Solidarity.

Poem: She Stays

She stay creating
transforming destruction into art.
She stay owning what she does
and all that she is
and stay giving from her heart.

She stay doing dumb shit.
She stay learning from it.
She stay jumpin’ over haters
like they’re ‘gators in swamps
or snakes rattling in hidden pits.

She stay showing up 
even when it’s hard.
She stay loving on her Folx
even when they try 
to snatch her Card.
She stay hustlin’.
She stay grindin’.
She stay ridin’.
She stay providin’.
And when it gets to be too much
She is known to stay hidin’.

She stay writing.
She stay fighting.
She stay striving.

She stay trying.

Through it all 
what keeps her going 
is that she stays praying.
Because it is her relationship
with the Divine
that gives her the power
to keep staying.

Do You Have A “Love Space?”

I hope you and those you love are healthy and safe as we prepare to part ways with August and welcome the month of September. 

Before I get into today’s message, I would like to send prayers of love and protection to everyone impacted by the events in Afghanistan. Whether you are a member of the U.S. military or an Afghan citizen wanting to find refuge for you and your loved ones, may “…the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7)” fall upon you as you seek safety. 

With everything going on right now, including the focus on returning to “business as usual” during these highly unusual times, I am focusing my email today on creating a different kind of safety, a spiritual and emotional place of respite that we all have the power to create. So let’s get into it…

Love and Change

This past week, I was blessed to talk to four very different groups that are gearing up to lead in their respective areas of influence. In all four discussions, I talked about Love and/or Spirituality as strategy for navigating all of the destruction that surrounds us. What I was saying wasn’t new or groundbreaking. My memory immediately pulls up files of the Civil Rights Movement and images of strategy sessions. Loving fellowship was always at the core of those meetings. No, not a group of “perfect people” trying to one-up each other. Regular people who wanted to see love in the form of justice lived out in the world. But, before they could love on the world, they had to love on each other and that required sharing love and space.

What is a”Love Space?”

A Love Space is an emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, space of rejuvenation. In this space, one’s personhood is welcomed and continuously validated. It is a place to restore one’s sense of purpose, gain perspective, and revive courage in order for the person(s) to move forward with the work of countering hegemonic, demonic, and pathologic forms of social dis-ease.

I developed this definition while designing a program for adult learners in Boston back in 2013. The term “Love Space” was being used to describe what the learning environment should “feel like.” Creating this nurturing environment was in addition to providing content to support the community members in being successful as classroom teaching assistants. There was no formal definition or description provided, but what was said about a Love Space was simply “You know it when you feel it.”

What does this definition have to do with dealing with the experiment of going back into the office, sending young children back to school, and leading life in a time where everything that is anything is a boiling hot mess?

“An emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, space of rejuvenation. In this space, one’s personhood is welcomed and continuously validated. It is a place to restore one’s sense of purpose, gain perspective, and revive courage in order for the person(s) to move forward with the work of countering hegemonic, demonic, and pathologic forms of social dis-ease.”

Definition of “Love Space.” Dr. Kecia Brown, 2013.

Do You Have A “Love Space?”

Oppressive systems must be dismantled. Periodt (For those who may be unfamiliar with that hard ass “t” added to the word “Period” is to denote an added layer of emphasis per Tyler Perry’s beloved “Madea”). And our righteous indignation (which is fueled by love) has us look at oppression with an expression that says “Is that the best you’ve got?!?”

Septima Clark and Rosa Parks at the Highlander’s Citizenship School Program; the epitome of a “Love Space.”

When we embody and are surrounded by Love, we create solutions that seem unfathomable. When we are overtaken by the Spirit of Love, we never give up on the idea that change is possible. When we know that Love is the only answer, we don’t get tripped up by the world’s questions. When you are in a Love Space, you know it and you feel it, because it fuels you.

A Love Space situates you right back into your divine essence over and over and over again.

Look, I’m not totally naive here. Sharing in a Love Space with other people is not going to be perfect. Sometimes it is clunky as hell and can be downright hard to watch. Oh, but the benefits are soooooooooooooo worth it!

As you go about your week, please make time to be nurtured by those in your Love Space. If you do not have a Love Space just yet, give yourself permission to develop one made up of those you love (and who love you back) and who will provide sound counsel. Consider adding the spiritual guidance of the Ancestors to your Love Space as well! Some of their written and spoken words are just a Google search away!

I hope you have a wonderful week! Sending you love from afar and wishing you continued health and safety as you work towards love, justice and liberation!

In Solidarity,

Poem: The Future is Waiting for You

Updated: May 21, 2021

The inspirations for this piece were my daughter Makaila, the graduate students completing their Action Research requirement at the University of San Diego (especially the 1st year students I have been blessed to engage this semester), and all of our next generation leaders.

A special Thank You to Dr. Nydia Sanchez and Jessica López for the encouragement to do what I do!

Feel free to share this poem with any graduate or person who is moving to the next level in their lives. Also, feel free to reframe the poem into the first person and use it as an affirmation for yourself!


The Future Is Waiting For You

Our world is calling you now
to lead at a time when innovation must lock arms with compassion.


Call and response: The future is waiting for you.

When we have called for change
Your brilliance, power and hope have responded unapologetically “We are here.”

Call and response: The future is waiting for you.

Your Ancestors stand proud as you represent a mosaic of possibilities
and our community stands together as we see a loss of learning and the violent taking of lives.
In the midst of it all, you have steadied your hearts with courage, power and purpose
and have confidently continued your stride towards excelencia.

Call and response: The future is waiting for you (read 2 times).


The Future.
Is waiting.
For You.


May you all continue to thrive and keep moving towards liberation!

In Solidarity,

7 Questions: Thriving

It’s May! Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

So, this is the first post (I believe) where I start off with the 7 Questions. Given EVERYTHING that is going on around us, the idea of healing and thriving have been center-stage for me. I asked Yolanda the “thriving” question during our conversation (Timestamp 7:26 – 11:03) and now I am digging deeper. I would love for you to dig deep with me and ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do I define “Thriving?” Do I know what thriving is for myself? Others? 
  2. Have I ever seen people thriving, i.e. do I recognize what thriving looks like (No, not InstaThriving/social media-esque thriving, the real thing)? 
  3. As I continue to interrogate myself (Cornel West via A. Rafik Mohamed Ep. 12 timestamp 31:22 – 32:11) and exorcize the internalized messages of oppression – stereotype threat, impostor syndrome, etc.), what hard truths do I need to hear in order to embrace what it means to thrive? 
  4. Who do I trust in my Circle of Support who will tell me these hard truths in order to help me/us move forward?
  5. If thriving is new to me, what can I do to not self-sabotage out of fear of experiencing something outside of the toxic, trauma-filled norm?
  6. What are ways I can support the thriving of those dearest to me? 
  7. How am I celebrating with those who are thriving and not letting my Inner Critic dampen the moment out of fear or questioning my worthiness to thrive?

Last week, my clients and students reminded me what thriving in spite and despite the oppressive conditions surrounding us looks like. My students found a way to enjoy each others joy and brilliance in a socially distant way and reflected on what it means to be Scholars of Color. My clients are confidently redefining what success and wealth building look like to them, and my daughter is finding great joy in making her racist teacher more upset as she is progressing in her schoolwork (Hey, motivation is motivation).

However you define your “win,” let it empower you to dream bigger and dream in honor of those who are thriving through you: 

Ma’Khia Bryant, Jacqueline Polk, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Andrew Brown, Jr., Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Adam Toledo, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and way too many/too painful to list.

As Beyoncé said in her beautiful song Bigger “life is your birthright they hid that in the fine print.”

Because it’s Beyoncé

Not only is living your birthright, but so is the audacity to radically love, thrive and liberate while being liberated. 

 Hold fast to your Birthright.

In Solidarity,

P.s. For anyone in the mood for a little poetry, take a look at one of my latest pieces for my 4th book “Emancipation Papers.” The poem is titled “The Road Home.”

Poem: The Road Home

I feel your heavy heart.
I see you are trying.
You are not casco.
You matter.
You will find joy again.

I welcome you home.

You have tried to be
what others have wanted you to be.
You are still discovering who you are, truly.
Let their construction of you crumble.

We welcome you home.

Your heart and spirit know you fully
and are aching for you to be what you are destined to be.
Let the lies disintegrate into fine particles of dust
and stand fully in your truth.
Your Ancestors applaud your courage
and dance to celebrate your deliverance.

You are home
and home has always existed in you.

My Valentine’s Gift to You

Coming in hot to you out of today’s journal entry!

you are important

May we reclaim this day set aside to celebrate romantic love, as a day to celebrate how much we have overcome in the face of everything that has attempted to destroy our ability to love. All of the hate, delusion, cowardice, complacency, nihilation, corruption, psychosis, neurosis, hypocrisy, rejection, micro and macro aggressions, and plain old unkindness and disrespect. You are still here! Despite and in spite of decisions that could have destroyed you or even the selection of partners that were (or are) undeserving of the exceptional love you / we have to give, you are still here and you are still loved. Regardless of who has tried to use you in the past or who may be plotting to use you in the future, you are still loved. 

Now is the time to own your love. All that “in spite of” love. That enduring love. That “I-waited-20-years-for-you-because-you-are-that” kind of love. Own your “I-have-been-through-the-gauntlet-of-attacks-and-got-my-mind-back” kind of love. Show out because you’re standing up to injustice with every fiber of your being with that love. You…up here representing those that others have tried to kill mentally, physically and spiritually; yet you are up here still standing like an Elton John remix. Look at you, you and your magnificence! Your power! Your resilience exists even when you don’t feel resilient at all! You are the most amazing being we h ave ever encountered and we love everything about you! 

You have so much ahead of you. Don’t get sidetracked by the naysayers or those who wish you and themselves the worst. See yourself fully even on those days when you wish you were never born. Yes, we all have those days; I know I have had them as an adult. Then, at that precise moment when I’m questioning the reason for my existence, the Lover and Creator of my life reminds me of my purpose by sending me you: My loved ones, my students, my clients, my neighbors, my Ministry.

And so, on this Valentine’s Day in the year after a year like no other, I wish you the love that you deserve. I wish you the love that you conjure in your mind and spirit that you dare not speak aloud. I wish you the love that continues to endure time, circumstance and space. May the love that brings you joy in the secret recesses of your mind and that reminds you that you are so much more than your titles, degrees, or other accolades could ever detail, continue to abide and give you strength. You are blessedly you… and that has always been enough! 

May you continue learning, thriving and moving towards liberation!

In Solidarity,