A Book Worth Exploring

Dr. Jennifer Wimbish is president emeritus of Cedar Valley College of the Dallas Community College District.

Dr. Jennifer Wimbish’s recent book, Leadership Wisdom for All Generations: Unique Insights from Authentic Leaders is a distinctive and engaging read.

It is first a memoir that takes readers through Wimbish’s childhood and youth in segregated Port Lavaca, Texas; her college years at a historically black college; and into her exemplary decades-long career as a community college educator and president. Additionally, this book is a leadership guide, and workbook. Wimbish’s approach is unusual in that she has combined her memoir with teaching tools. There’s even a section explaining how the book can be used.

Each chapter is followed by a section called “Lessons Learned from [chapter title]” and another called “Echoes from [chapter title]” in which she reiterates life lessons and leadership wisdom. There are 48 lessons packed into nine chapters and just over 200 pages.

Wimbish dedicates her book to her mentors, the “authentic leaders “of the subtitle, but I found it surprising that, with only one exception, she does not identify these leaders in her text along with the wisdom they imparted to her. If you are familiar with her life and career, you can intuit what wisdom came from whom, but if not, it remains a mystery.

Jennifer Wimbish is a deeply religious woman, and that is evident in Leadership Wisdom for All Generations. She knows her Bible and is very comfortable citing scripture, seeking wisdom from God, and  encouraging readers to seek God’s guidance.

Leadership Wisdom for All Generations is aimed at a multigenerational audience. Wimbish is passionate about the need for history and knowledge sharing between the generations. Parents and teens can read this book together and young professionals can learn from it at the same time that older generations can glean ideas to pass along to younger ones. It is currently being used in high school and university classes to teach students leadership skills, another of Wimbish’s life-long passions.

Some things in Leadership Wisdom for All Generations: Unique Insights from Authentic Leaders, may seem familiar, but there are historical and leadership nuggets that you may find revelatory; and of course, Dr. Wimbish’s memoir will provide insights, no matter your age and knowledge base. This is a book that is worth exploring, and I recommend it.

 Wimbish, Jennifer. Leadership Wisdom for All Generations: Unique Insights from Authentic Leaders. 2018. 208 pp. ISBNs: 978-1-64184-957-9, hardcover; 978-64184-958-6;, paperback; 978-1-64184-9593, ebook.

Use Less STUFF!

I have too much stuff. I have too much stuff that I don’t even need. I have so much stuff that I can’t keep up with it all. And a stuff problem can morph into a clutter problem. That’s what too much stuff has done at my house. I’m sad to say, I threw away over two dozen canned goods today whose expiration dates had passed, not by just four or six months (I kept those), but by as much as 12 years! I had lost sight of their existence in my cabinets. I’m sure there’s more stuff that is hiding in plain sight – or in boxes – in my home.

If you’re noticing stuff/clutter building up in your home, beware. Living with clutter is not sustainable. Collecting clutter is like gaining unwanted weight. One day, you look up and it’s there; and it’s much harder to get rid of clutter than it is to let it into the house. A trinket or book here, a magazine subscription or new piece of clothing there, three-for-the-price-of-one items at the grocery on sale, and you may end of with more stuff than you need to live your life. I have a button in my kitchen that reminds me to “Use Less Stuff.” It is my new motto.

I am in the process of decluttering as all my friends and family can tell you. It’s an ongoing, and I fear, never-ending project. I’m working on both the stuff and the clutter problems simultaneously, because they are really just one big problem.

I have too much stuff. Do you?

Dallas’s ADL Walk against Hate 15 Sept.

On 15 September, the Anti-Defamation League‘s Inaugural Dallas Walk against Hate will take place. I am walking and I even have a fundraising page to which you can donate toward my fundraising goal of $150. Put this link in your browser to get to my page:  https://support.adl.org/Ms-Ice-for-ADL. I will appreciate any size donation to help meet (or exceed!) my $150 goal. Thank you in advance.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to my ADL fundraiser. The raised $200 for ADL!

Beyond Sad

Two mass murder events in one weekend. It is beyond sad. And most of us are befuddled by them. We don’t know what to do, but as the crowd shouted in Dayton on Sunday afternoon, someone needs to “Do something!”

One thing the news media and the rest of us can do is call these horrendous events what they are: mass murders. I think calling them other than what they are contributes to the complacency everyone seems to be experiencing.

I must admit, I don’t know what to do, either. Except write; write for this blog; write to my legislators; and write to myself, trying to fiure out what else I can do to actually make a difference.

The ministers of the Washington National Cathedral asked, “Have we no decency?” They were referring in part to the fact that Donald Trump still is in office. But we must ask it of ourselves as well. What will get us off our duffs and into the streets in protest of the gun violence that is a daily part of the news cycle. Apparently we haven’t hit the tipping point, the critical mass that pushes us out of our comfort zones.

The activists, the ones who do get out of their comfort zones, the ones who do something are the gun violence survivors and the families of gun violence victims. As a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and Everytown for Gun Safety volunteer and supporter, I’ve met survivors and parents of gun violence victims. They are passionate because they have experienced gun violence first-hand.

My fear is that many more people will be murdered en masse before we rise up en masse and insist that the Congress pass legislation against assault weapons and extended/high capacity magazines.

People scream about the second amendment, but the fact is that no civilian needs an assault rifle; no civilian needs to fire scores of bullets in seconds; and no civilian needs an arsenal in his man cave. Let’s stop it from happening. Let’s write our legislators, let’s join and send money to organizations that are doing something. Let’s help stop gun violence. That’s what we can do.

 

For Your Viewing Pleasure and Edification

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am and True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality are two documentaries currently on screens across the country, and you won’t want to miss either one. These films place the spotlight on two critically important African-American thinkers.

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, in theaters, is an introduction or reintroduction to the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. True Justice, free on HBO through much of July, familiarizes the audience with attorney Bryan Stevenson and his groundbreaking work as founder of the the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Legacy Museum, and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, all in Montgomery AL.

Both films provide wonderful historical context reaching all the way back to antebellum times. Neither subject is “sanitized” for the audience. For the most part Stevenson tells his own story, and a wonderful storyteller he is. As you would suspect, Morrison is a wonderful narrator of her story as well, although we don’t hear her voice as much in The Pieces I Am as we get to hear Stevenson’s in True Justice.

Run, don’t walk to your nearest art house to see Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. There’s no telling how long it will be in theaters. And if you’re not an HBO subscriber, see True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality before the free period expires.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a documentary person, see these two. They are  riveting, powerful, and simply not to be missed especially if you value African-American history and culture.

PoC = African-American or Black? NO!

I’ve decided I’m not using the term “person/people of color” (PoC) to refer to African-Americans/blacks anymore. People of color refers to everyone who is not white. That means people of color refers to Hispanics, Arabs, Asians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, West Indians, Africans, Native Americans and . . . African-Americans or blacks.

The issue that Trump, Jr. tried to address regarding Kamala Harris wasn’t that she isn’t a PoC; he retweeted that she isn’t black; but she is. Her father is a black Jamaican and her mother was an Asian Indian. Harris was born in the United States, so she’s a Jamaican-Asian-Indian-American, and by the standards we use today, she is black. How dare Trump, Jr. try to define Harris’s heritage for her. I believe every person should be allowed to define her or his own ethnicity. Kamala Harris claims blackness, so she’s black. Period.

Let’s face it, there are times when blacks/African-Americans are who we want/need to reference, not the whole landscape of “people of color.” So, no more PoC when what I mean is black or African-American.

Metamorphosis: Epilogue

The good news is that M— and I still are friends. Maybe better friends than before because we cared enough about each other to discuss the problem and talk it out. In person.

Here’s what happened. I wanted to forewarn M— that Metamorphosis was going to be published on my blog, so I emailed her that I was writing a piece that was sensitive in nature and involved her. I asked if she would read it and give me feedback. M— said she would, so I emailed Metamorphosis to her after Thanksgiving, and scheduled it to post on 18 December. I was sure I would hear from her before that so if I wanted to edit the essay, I’d have time before it posted.

I didn’t hear from Mbefore I left for Michigan in December, and I totally forgot about the automatic posting until I was sitting in the airport on 18 December and saw that Metamorphosis had posted. I was disappointed that M – hadn’t responded, but since she hadn’t, I was perfectly okay with my essay posting. I saw it as just one more indication that our friendship was in trouble.

“The good news is that M— and I still are friends.”

Here’s what I didn’t know: M— never received the copy of Metamorphosis I sent her, so, of course, she couldn’t respond. While I was forming opinions about why she hadn’t responded, M— was wondering why I hadn’t sent her the blog post. But, I didn’t check to see that she’d received the essay, and she didn’t check to see why she hadn’t. I don’t think Mercury was retrograde, but our communication was garbled nonetheless.

When I arrived in Michigan and called M—, the first thing she said was, “I read your blog. Was that supposed to be me? Were you talking about me?” It was clear she was upset.

I went to her house so we could talk without interruption. M—explained that she perceived Anne-Maré’s difficulty at the funeral as bereavement over her friend and mentor’s death rather than as physical distress. And M—was dealing with some family issues of her own at the time, something that did not cross my mind. Even so, the bottom line was that she did not feel close enough to either of us to intervene. Not calling or contacting Anne-Maré, I understood, and though l was hurt that M— didn’t feel comfortable enough in our relationship to make contact, I had to accept it.

I am sorry that I responded so viscerally and so quickly, but I’m protective of my sisters. That “everyone was talking about” Anne-Maré’s “agony” and difficulty standing was upsetting and is something I wish someone had alerted me to. But that’s water under the bridge. Obviously Anne-Maré didn’t tell Patricia (our other sister) and me that she was struggling to stand and walk. That’s our family’s problem, not M—’s, and now, I own it.

In over sixty years of the ebb and flow of friendship, this is the only time feathers were ruffled, and anger flared. We are not as close as we once were, but I aim to try to remedy that by being in better, more frequent contact. M—stopped me in my tracks when she told me I hadn’t considered her point of view – only my own, and that I was pretty quick to declare the friendship over. She was right, and I am chastened.

Because of our willingness to confront each other, M—and I have weathered this crisis in our relationship; and I am happy to say that the metamorphosis continues in the chrysalis of our  friendship.

# # #

A Gem in Dallas, Texas

There is a little gem hidden in plain sight in Dallas’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, Building A. That is where Emma Rodgers, formerly of Black Images Books, has established the Dallas Civil Rights Museum.

IMG_0804
Painting by Arthello Beck

It is well worth your time and the $5 entry fee to visit “sunny South Dallas” and go through the museum. Visits are by appointment only. Call 214-670-8418 to schedule a walk-through.  A docent will guide you, focusing on four civil rights milestones: the Underground Railroad, the Trail of Tears, Black Wall Street (Tulsa OK), and the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Visit the Dallas Civil Rights Museum.

Tell everyone about it!

 

Metamorphosis

Sometimes you know exactly when a friendship died. Twenty-five years ago, one of my friendships died an agonizing death. It was the most difficult loss I had suffered since the loss of my marriage and a subsequent long-term romantic relationship. I shed as many tears over the loss of my friendship with G— as I ever did over those men in my life. I grieved.

I had thought we were the best of friends. I was the only attendant in her wedding. We told each other everything. I signed, along with the family, messages of love and good fortune on the frame of the house she and her new husband built. I flew a number of times with her and her family to their vacation home in Mexico. She is one of the first people I told that I had been raped. (And it was years before I told anyone else, because that is when I felt the friendship began to die.)

After the birth of her second child, the first with the new husband, she became more and more distant. She wasn’t returning my calls timely and, when we did talk or visit, it just wasn’t the same. One day she told me she didn’t remember being my friend. I was stunned. It was a punch in the gut, but I couldn’t quite believe it. How could she not remember? How do you even say such a thing to someone to whom you know you’ve been close?

Later as I tried to understand what had happened to our friendship, I thought maybe G— had suffered some sort of psychic break along with post-partum depression after the birth of her son. It took me a long time – a couple of years, actually, to get over the loss of our friendship. Still, I’m writing about it now. Does that mean I’m still grieving, still not over the hurt?

* * *

“Well,” she said. “. . . We don’t . . . talk . . . ”

Not long ago, another friendship changed status. This is someone I’ve known nearly my whole life. We live in different states now, and we don’t talk often, but I thought we still were friends. We know each other’s families, and when we get together, we just pick up where we left off. We grew up together, went to elementary, junior high, and college together, so we know many of the same people and we’ve shared many experiences over the years.

Recently while visiting my sister, Anne-Maré, in our hometown, she suffered a major mobility crisis which landed her in the hospital, and I ended up staying in town for a month to advocate for her. I had known that she had a mobility issue, but I had no idea of how bad it had gotten since I’d seen her in late May/early June until I arrived in Detroit in September.

One day after I visited Anne-Maré in the hospital, I dropped by to visit with my good friend M—. As we chatted about this and that, of course, she asked how my sister was doing. I gave M— a progress report, and her unexpected response was something to the effect that she wasn’t surprised that things had come to such a pass, because when she had seen Anne-Maré back in July at another friend’s funeral during which my sister was invited to make remarks to the congregation. “She could hardly stand, and she looked like she was in agony. She was in bad shape, and afterward, everyone was talking about it—” M— stopped herself in mid-sentence, and we looked at each other in stricken silence.

M— had known Anne-Maré was in trouble, but she hadn’t bothered to pick up the phone or send a text to say so. I was stricken for the same reason M— was. The more I thought about it, I realized that I was not only shocked; I was angry. M— should have gotten in touch.

“Well,” she said. “You know . . . we don’t . . . talk . . . .” And that’s when I realized that somewhere along the way, the status of our relationship had changed for M— though it hadn’t changed for me. She knew, and she knew that I knew: she should have done something. Texted, called, sent an email, a letter, or postcard. She knew both Anne-Maré and me well enough to call no matter how long it had been since we had talked. We weren’t just friends; M— was my first friend who wasn’t a relative; she was, for many years in our youth, my best friend; we have known each other over 65 years. . .

And, sure, there were other people who could have given a shout out, but she was my best friend in the city, and I expected better, I expected to be treated like a friend. And, so did M— when she thought about it; when she heard herself say, “Everyone was talking about it!” referring to Anne-Maré’s plight at that funeral.

* * *

In October and November when I was home again for nearly a month, M— couldn’t even find time to see me. I don’t know what that was about. It hurt, but I got it.  That, along with everything else, confirmed for me that M— doesn’t see me as a friend anymore. I don’t know what I am, an acquaintance, I guess. I have no idea how long it will take me to get over this loss, but I guess, no – I’m sure I will. And whatever happens, M—always will have been my first “best friend.”

I am sad right now, because it is always sad when friendship dies, especially if you don’t know why, as mine with G— did. It is sadder still when the shape of a lifelong friendship changes, and you know exactly when and where and why.

# # #

READ THE EPILOGUE ON 7 APRIL 2019.