The Struggle Is Worth It
What does this picture say? I have an imagination that would bring itself back to life if it died, so instantly, I drum up a story. Who is this woman? What is her story? What is her struggle? She stands, book in hand, waiting for the train. What’s her background? I study her. I plant my eyes on an amazing creature and I think . . .
“What type of life can I create for her?”
She’s a graduate student, studying Socioeconomics with an emphasis on Urban Culture and the effects of gentrification on middle-aged people of color. She is working on her thesis and has fifteen pages of solid, stone-cold research that she can verbally back up in her sleep.
She’s fearless, the eldest of four children, and a full-time teller at the bank Uptown. She juggles school, work, and time-spent keeping her cousins out of the morgue. She does not complain. She struggles silently.
The promotion to financial advisor has been on and off the table for the last three years. She aims for it, going the extra mile: staying longer at work and arriving earlier than everyone else.
She does not complain. She struggles silently.
Her boss sees her but doesn’t see her. She stands out, but not in the way the company needs her to. She speaks four languages and can cuss him out in three of them. He wouldn’t know a thing. The offer on the table today: $16.25 per hour, 40 hours per week. A seventy-five cent increase.
He tells her, “It’s the best we can do.” She calls bullshit but with class. She knows Taylor, her window-mate, received a $1.05 increase and she trained her. The chick’s been clucking about it loud enough for the entire breakroom to hear. They don’t seem to care about her constant avoidance of company policies. Taylor’s untouchable. And since Taylor’s untouchable, she has to be ten times better at her job to receive less.
The chick’s been clucking about it loud enough for the entire breakroom to hear.
There is no one. She hasn’t been on a date in nearly four years. There’s never any time. Mark, her ex-boyfriend, calls regularly, says he’s “just checking in.” She entertains his advances for moments at a time weekly but he knows their ship sailed a long time ago.
There is no room for love. There is only time for work, school, writing her thesis, fighting for her rightful positions in life and society, and sleep. Everything else is on the back burner. Everything else will have to wait.
The guy standing next to her offers her the only seat left on the train after they enter. In exchange, he adds, for her number. She sighs, discontented with the constant barter and trade most men often dole out on a daily basis. She’s had a rough day. He doesn’t know it. He doesn’t care. His aim is to conquer, build up his ego, and slowly deflate hers. She declines.
She stands and reads the last chapter in her book on how to increase a company’s authorized share capital. She highlights key aspects and mentally preps a presentation. Tomorrow at work, she will turn in her resignation.
The guy standing next to her, offers her the only seat left on the train after they enter. In exchange, he adds, for her number.
Armed with a wealth of knowledge, ten years in the banking industry, and being multilingual, she remembers the job offer her classmate shared with her one week ago: Entry Level International Accountant for the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation (IFRS Foundation).
She will leave her life to gain a life. She has her wings.
Starting now — It’s time to fly
Originally published as a metered paywall piece via Medium. I have included the “friend link” as it’s a paid piece via Medium, thus anyone who clicks on that link above can read for free.
beaten into defeat,
worn and torn, his
body cannot go on.
he leans into himself,
gathers the strength to
breathe out a sigh, and
tucks his sullen demeanor
into his pockets.
two more shifts before
will he make it?
can he make it?
he doesn’t know, but
he will try.
that’s all that’s left
Here, you see one of my older cousins speaking to one of my younger cousins, his nephew. Phil, my older cousin, is a successful businessman, an entrepreneur continuing to grow his brand. He has a vast amount of knowledge to share with anyone willing to listen and I watched him as he spoke to my cousin Alex, giving him pointers on what to do in life with his talents in order to have his dreams come true and in turn, work for him.
I sat there amazed by the exchange. As you can see, Alex is listening intently. He is focused. This is nothing new to Phil, regularly, he speaks to hundreds of people who have aspirations of being self-employed and successful in the fields of realty and investments. One of my brothers started his own clothing line, S.T.T.Y. (Stay True To Yourself) and a number of our family members have jumped on the bandwagon and are supporting the Kid by purchasing his creations. The first person I told my brother to reach out to was our cousin.
Young, African-American men need this. They are often hanging by the seat of their pants, struggling because they don’t know the way and they have no idea which path to choose. I am investing in my brother’s company. I believe in his dream. I tell him how exceptionally proud I am of him and I make it a point to rejoice with him when things go well and genuinely empathize when there are hiccups along the way.
I want what is best for these young men in my life, for them to reach out and pull back a star. For them to jump up and shoot to the moon. They cannot do it alone. The village is still needed regardless of what some people believe. If we are not willing to get our hands dirty in the mix of catapulting our young ones to a height they’ve never experienced, who will? We must give them something they believe, show them that there is more beyond fast money and slow thinking. The future needs to be filled with a plethora of them paving the way for more and more and more little black boys who will yearn to be for and work for themselves.
If they’re dreaming, don’t crush it. Help build it up. Nurture it. Water it. Speak life over it. KEEP THEM OFF OF THE STREETS! The kind of money out there is the kind that’ll leave them wanting more or send them to an early grave. Our intention should be to watch them live, watch them soar.
If they’re flying high, they won’t have time to come down. Build a young black man up today. He needs that.
Believe me, he needs that.
I have forgiven you,
you no longer threaten my growth.
I know that in order to flourish,
in order to bloom, I had to give you
the sunshine you needed and acquire my own.
It is your decision to stay bound,
connected, linked–desperately clinging to
another who only lip-services you and does not
honor your heart.
I do not want that for my own,
so I chose a place for me, for my heart
where both of us can be loved accordingly
and fully without shame.
I hear my heart more now.
It has been
s h o u t i n g
and I have ignored it, but now–
now I know what it needs
and that is not you.
A lie would be to say that
I don’t miss being a thought of yours,
that I don’t still dream of you,
that on occasion, I don’t get teary-eyed.
But, I am choosing me.
I know I will not let me down.
This is my letter of amends to you,
my offering–to give you what you have
freedom from commitment.
freedom from love.