Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You Don't Know My Story

 
You don’t know my story
For if you did you would lift up your hands
So just let me tell you
By faith you may as well break out and dance.
                                                “Life and Favor” by John P. Kee
 
When I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment before work one day, this song came through the speakers of my car. Before I knew it, I was raising my hands, weeping and singing along.  It hit me. The realization of how far I’ve come, hit me un-expectantly that morning.
 
You don’t know my story
You don’t know the day He set me free
You cannot imagine
The strongholds and the walls that severed me
 
I went through a period of about a year and a half of severe depression. I’ve been told by many people I have nothing to be depressed about. The bottom line is no matter how you look at my circumstances and lifestyle, my negative thoughts about myself were killing me. You don’t have to understand it just know it was very real to me.
 
In all God has been faithful to me
He promised He would never leave me
My story proves that God can use me
Deliverance is my testimony
You don’t know -- my story!
 
Strangely, I started to gradually get better after one of my friends committed suicide. I don’t know what he was struggling with, he kept it well hidden. Frankly, I never discussed with him the severity of what I was going through. After his death, I was inspired to live my life with purpose.
 
With the help of a therapist and medication, we developed a plan to get me well. That plan included the blood of Jesus and getting rid of negative thought patterns. It took time but I am better now. I still struggle but now I have the coping skills to make it through the struggle.


You don’t know my story
The anguish and the guilt that consume me
Grateful I can tell it
For no more shall the shackles condemn me
 


I’ve wanted to tell my story for a long time but I’ve been hiding behind my contributing blogger, Jeralyn Powell because she is braver than me. What was I afraid of? Airing my dirty laundry, worrying about what people would say and think about me and afraid of being treated differently at work.


In all God has been faithful to me
He promised He would never leave me
My story proves that God can use me
Deliverance is my testimony
 


There were many days I couldn’t find the strength to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. But now, but now, I have self-published a Christian fiction novel that I started writing in 2008. Because my God never left me and He kept me, I wrote a book y’all! I finished a book y’all! By the grace and mercy of God I have favor and life. The fruit of that favor and life can be seen on Amazon! You don’t know my story! I still can’t stop crying tears of joy when I think about it. You don’t know how hard it was for me to get to this point.


I’m delivered, here’s my story
Life and Favor upon me He brought me out
You don’t know it, let me tell it
Life and favor upon me He brought me out

God of mercy He who loves me
Life and favor upon me He brought me out
Oh how wondrous is my story
Life and favor upon me He brought me out
 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Favorite App: My Fitness Pal

#bloglikecrazy 


myfitnesspal FUN FACT: A Methodist communion wafer has no calories but an Episcopal communion wafer has one.

Back in March, I received a call from my primary care physician. He was concerned about my creatinine levels because they had greatly increased since my last physical the year before. When he sent me to a Nephrologist, the Nephrologist told me the necessary things to do in order to preserve my kidneys.  Of course, the first step was to lose weight.

The doctor highly suggested I use an app called myfitnesspal to jumpstart my weight loss. I took his advice very seriously and became immensely immersed in it. Annoyingly, I would go around telling my co-workers and family members the calorie count of what they were eating. For twenty minutes, I would sit in the parking lot of food places planning my order.

One starts by setting up a profile inputting current weight, target weight, height, and activity level. The app uses your responses to formulate the number of calories you should eat each day. My favorite feature is after recording all your activity, water intake, and calorie intake for the day, it tells you, "If every day was like today you will lose x amount of pounds in x amount of days," or " You are not eating enough calories putting your body in danger of going into starvation mode."
 
I was able to be honest with myself and myfitnesspal that my activity level would be sedentary and it computed my calories accordingly. I lost about 11 pounds by my next doctor's appointment two months later. I have lost a total of 23 pounds since March. Of course like an obsession, it waned after I lost 20 pounds but it does not take away from the fact that this is an awesome app.
 
When I told my doctor how I lost the weight, he was so excited and exclaimed, "Yes! I love it when my patients do what I tell them to do."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Blogging Bucket List

 
#bloglikecrazy


 

WE SHALL BE STRONG, BE BRAVE, BE TRUE.
WE SHALL BE STRONG, BE BRAVE, BE TRUE
WE SHALL BE STRONG, WE SHALL BE BRAVE, TRUE.
Chautauqua of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church's
Young People's Division (YPD)
 
 
Growing up, I had to learn the above saying as a YPDer at St. John A.M.E. Church in Birmingham AL. It has an accompanying hand-clap that we used to show honor to our distinguished leaders. Most of the time, I just use those words to help me stay on beat with the hand-clap without giving much thought to the meaning of the words. But these words came to mind as I was trying to formulate a blogging bucket list.
 
My blogging bucket list consists of one thing: to be brave. I need strength to be brave enough to share my truth on my blog without fearing the consequences. I don't want to worry about offending anyone, personal and/or professional backlash or disappointing myself by not  "keeping it 100." I want to take risks by saying the things that others are afraid to say, expose my insecurities, inconsistencies, and imperfections by sharing whatever is on my heart.
 
One of my favorite scriptures is 1 Corinthians 6:12-    
 
"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything.
 
Those words give me pause when I want to be strong, be brave, and be true. . . to myself. Hopefully one day I will find a beautiful balance between the two or exchange caution with reckless abandonment and go for what I know! It wouldn't hurt if some literary agent or publisher stumbles upon my blog, becomes so enthralled with my point of view and whisks me off into the literary sunset. I guess that would add a second item to my blogging bucket list.
 

 
 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Who is TED?

#bloglikecrazy 



Javacia Harris Bowser asked See Jane Write members to blog about their favorite TED Talk.
I have a confession to make: I don't know TED and what he talks about. I've heard people rave about Ted Talks in passing but I've never taken the time to listen to one.

This assignment gave me an opportunity to find out more about the TED organization and share my findings with my readers. I'm sure many of you haven't discovered TED yet either.

I started my research with my most trusted source for information other than Jon Stewart, Steven Corbert, and FOX News: Wikipedia. TED's mission statement sounds in line with my mission statement for thegleanse.blogspot.com. What do you think?

According to Wikipedia, TED's mission statement begins:
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.
 
It was my plan to watch a TED Talk to further my research for this post. When I got to the website, I felt overwhelmed and I'm tired and hungry. So, tell me about your favorite TED Talk. Or tell me about one you have heard is worth checking out. I promise I'll look in to it, after I find something to eat and take a nap.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just Scandalous!

#bloglikecrazy

Mama, I'm in love wit a gangsta (damn)
Mama, I'm in love wit a gangsta (y'know)
Mama, I'm in love wit a gangsta and I know he's a killer
but I love dat ni**a

                       ~ "Mama, I'm In Love Wit A Gangsta,"  Coolio


Brace yourself, I have a confession to make. I'm almost ashamed to admit it. Almost.
I have fallen into the wrong crowd; hanging out with people who I know do bad things. My parents taught me better,  but now even they enjoy the company of my new friends.
The ringleader looks like she has it all together but is having an affair with a married man.  She pretends like she has concern for her friends but still coaches them to do the very things they have been working so hard not to do.  All she does is keep secrets and tell lies. For some reason, she is always nearby when a dead body surfaces and no one seems to question it. She gets away with murder.
Everyone loves her. They admire here style and cheer for her relationship with the married man while talking about his wife like a dog.
I must admit, I look forward to hanging out with her every week. Sometimes when we are spending time together, I hit pause and replay her words in my mind. I wish I always had a perfectly crafted comeback like she does to shut up my haters without consequence. She is the "Teflon Don."
After our visits, I seriously contemplate if I should hang out with her again because I have become desensitized to her cunning ways. They appear attractive and brilliant and almost harmless. Then I remember: they are not.
Only time will tell if I will show up for our weekly scheduled meeting this Thursday. Something I do know is she will be wearing earth tone clothes and a fabulous coat to be envied!

Monday, November 4, 2013

FOR YOUR "SHELF PLEASURE"





#bloglikecrazy
 



FOR YOUR "SHELF PLEASURE"

. . .and you win some
Is Now Available
in
Paperback & Kindle
on
AMAZON





What Are You Waiting For?!!
Buy Your Copy Now Then Tell a Friend!!
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nothing is Ever Useless

#bloglikecrazy  |Day 3
 
 
 
 
 
The first weekend of every month my mom and I have our special "mommy/daughter time." The location: Wal-Mart. We shop for her and my father's groceries and household products that are supposed to last until the next first of the month.
 
She may not realize it, but I love spending those times with her even though I may grumble and complain because I want my Saturday to myself.
 
We use this time to catch up mostly on church gossip, my job woes, family updates and Facebook statuses. As she searches the shelves for the Prego Traditional Spaghetti Sauce that is always difficult to find, I use my smart phone to locate pictures and status updates from Facebook I think she will get a kick out of.
 
Main topic this past Saturday: pledging. My mother is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority and she pledged at Lane College in Jackson, TN. While trying to find kosher dill pickle spears for my dad's lunch, she stopped in the middle of the aisle to tell me all she had to go through in order to be an AKA and how the kids these days have it too easy. I learned that crossing the burning sands was not just a figure of speech.
 
When we made it back to the car, she looked at the clock and realized how long we had been in the store. She said, "I spent that time giving you useless information on pledging." I told her nothing is ever useless because that will probably end up in one of my books at some point. That is my writing process.
 
I say all that to say, watch what you say around me, it may end up in a book. My friends will tell you that I'll break out a notebook in a minute to write down something from a conversation that has inspired me.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Now What?

#bloglikecrazy
 
I started thegleanse.blogspot.com December 16, 2012 mainly to build an audience that would eventually support me when my first novel was released.
 
As I mentioned in that first post, Mama, I Want to Write I was afraid of blogging.  How dare I think I had something to say that people would want to read?  I'm no expert. Yet, I do have a lot to say and I'll say it to anyone who will listen. I was also afraid of writing something that would haunt me and eventually come back to bite me.
 
I felt so stifled by this fear that I thought it was unnatural and I was determined not to let it get the best of me. Sharing my writing is something I felt compelled to do; I couldn't not do it. So, I went out and bought a bible study guide focused on fear to help me overcome it.  The study didn't eliminate the fear but it was no longer stifling.
 
 
 
 
 
Blogging has become much more than a means to an end for me. When I started seeing that people were really interested in what I had to say, I decided that blogging was something I wanted to take seriously and be successful at doing.  Looking at those pageviews increase from week to week, motivated me even more. I started attending writing and social media conference to learn how to up my game.
 
Like I said yesterday, I started to slack off but my desire to be successful at this thing has not waned.
 
I can't not do it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's Never Too Late. . .

. . . to #bloglikecrazy
 
 
I'd like to say that I have been on a planned hiatus from blogging to focus on self-publishing my first novel, . . .and you win some but that would be a lie. (By the way, the anticipated release date of my book is November 13th on www.amazon.com. )

The truth is: I'm a slacker.
 
But it is never too late to start again.
 
It is tempting to give up when so much time has lapsed since the last time you worked on that thing. You know, that thing you started researching but got sidetracked by unexpected circumstances; that thing you were so excited about but was immediately shot down when you shared it with your family and/or friends; that thing you talked yourself out of doing for various reasons; that thing you actually finished but was disheartened by an expert's opinion.
 
But it is never too late to start again.
 
That burning desire you have for that thing is inside you for a reason and your soul will not be able to rest until you do it. You were created to do that thing.

When you see me slacking on my blog, leave me a comment, tweet me @msasmoore or facebook me and say, hey get your hands back on that keyboard!  Accountability is important and I need to know that my readers miss me :-)
 
I challenge you to start again that thing you've always wanted to do. Study for that dental entrance exam, finish your master's degree (another thing I dropped), write that novel or autobiography, get more fit and healthy, start that ministry or volunteer project, apply for that job, or call that friend or family member you haven't talked to in awhile. 
 
Fill in the blank ________________________________________
 
 
So what's that thing you need to start again?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My First Self-Published Novel

 

. . . and you win some

 

 I am so excited, I just can't hide it!

 

My first self-published Christian Fiction novel is on it's way to print! Soon, you will be able to purchase a paperback copy from me at $12.50. It will also be available on Amazon.com in paperback and ebook form. Check back here regularly at thegleanse.blogspot.com for release date and official book signing information.  I'd love for you to celebrate with me!

 

Here is a preview of the book cover, description, and the author's biography.

 
 
 

About the Book

Wynsome Olivet has mystifying style and unapologetic worldly experience. Her background, mixed with Daniel Robert's convictions of holiness, cause so much strain on their budding college romance that it begins to unravel. 

Daniel’s cousin and polished businesswoman, Michelle Larsen has an explosive fight with her son's father that disrupts her tidy world and changes their lives forever.  

Jodie Sutton is admired by her church family, relatives and friends but privately, she fears she is living a double life. How can she dare to believe that her life can turn around after all the times she has let men degrade her?

In the end, all will have to make or reaffirm a commitment to Christ. Will they view all the loss around them as reason enough to ignore or deny Him?
 
 
  

~About the Author~

Alison S. Moore is a government employee by day and a writer all the time. Selected as one of the Top 30 contestants in the 2012 RE:WRITE conference non-fiction contest,        . . .and you win some is her first novel. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a proud native of Birmingham, AL. Check out her blog at  thegleanse.blogspot.com.

 

 

Leave me a note in the comment section.

I'd love to hear from you, your thoughts and opinions!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Go With Who You Got

 
Though I am not at a loss for ideas, I haven’t made myself sit down and write a blog post in some time now. I want to be successful at blogging and make a difference by presenting alternate ways of looking at common themes but sometimes the motivation just isn’t there.
 
I’ve been so overwhelmed with trying to self-publish my first novel, . . .and you win some and deal with some challenges at my day job, I’ve let some important things slip and for this I am truly sorry.
God is doing a new thing in some areas of my life that I would, frankly, like to stay the same. On the other hand, it seems He is being stagnant in the areas I want to change!
 
One area where God is doing a new thing, is in the young adult bible study I facilitate. But instead of embracing that change and thanking God for doing a new thing, I have been mourning the old thing which has left me feeling sad and disheartened.
Many of our participants are now in different stages of their lives than they were when we started.  Their priorities have shifted and commitments are needed elsewhere.
This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced a shift. Years back, we had a wave of people that moved out of the Birmingham area, but at the same time, God was faithful and brought in a new group of people. The people who moved away were missed but our group didn’t miss a beat.
A Word I received at my church’s Women’s Retreat based on Deuteronomy 20:1-9, recently came back to my remembrance that definitely speaks to this situation.  It was called, “Go with Who You Got Left.”
When changes like this occur, we can be tempted to label it as a work of the enemy. The change isn't the work of the enemy but how we potentially respond to the change can be.
The speaker reminded us not to be intimidated by large opponents but keep our minds on what God has already done for us in the past.  We must recognize who is our true enemy- it can be a concept or a person.
Some people have divided attention that would keep them from being effective in battle or bring down the morale of the other soldiers. This doesn’t make them bad people, just not right or ready for that particular battle.
When the people who usually come through don’t, it doesn’t mean the battle will be lost. We must stop talking about the ones who are no longer here and appreciate the ones who are. They are the remnant when we tend to treat them like the leftovers.
 
The Gleanse: Let God do His job and stop whining. Bemoaning the people who are no longer here just lowers your productivity and keep you from fulfilling your purpose. The battle will be won with the ones that are left.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

10 Dynamic Quotes to Get You Through the Week

My aim is to share life lessons I have extracted from current events, popular culture, and personal experiences here on thegleanse.
 
Allow me to share ten of my favorite quotes that I have come across in the course of my lifetime. I'd like to know some of your favorite quotes, scriptures, song lyrics, etc. too!
 
 
 
 
"Don't Hit the Wall. It Hurts."                                                         ~ Nike Billboard
 
 
"Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be."                  ~ Alice Walker
 
 
“The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity.”                                                                    ~ Neil T. Anderson
 
"There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt." 
                                                                                                                ~ Audre Lorde
 
 
"God don't like ugly and he's not too fond of cute either."          ~ Khujo Goodie
 
 
"Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."                                                                                   ~ 1 Peter 2:16 ESV
 
 
"Those who say it can't be done are usually interrupted by others doing it." 
                                                                                                                 ~ James Baldwin
 
 
"People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they are willing to remain actually fools."                                                       ~ Alice Walker
 
 
"Breathe. Stretch. Shake. Let it Go."                                                 ~ Mason Betha
 
 
"Humor is laughing at what you haven't got when you ought to have it."
                                                                                                                   ~ Langston Hughes
 
 
BONUS
 
 
 
What are some of your favorite quotes? Please share in the comment section below, tweet me @msasmoore, or hit me up on facebook. I want to know who and what inspires you!





Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Soul Food

 
I can attest to the fact that God can and will use anything, anybody, everything and everybody to reach humanity for His purpose. He often uses unconventional avenues to get our attention but ultimately He will lead us back to Him.
I was recently reminded of a personal experience I had where God used something considered not too Godly to help me through a difficult time.
 
Anyone who has spent any time around me knows I am a HUGE Goodie Mob fan.  I fell in love with their Dungeon Family members Outkast first, but that good ‘ole-fashioned Soul Food stole my affection away from them.
I listened to Goodie Mob's first album Soul Food all night long everyday after school. Back in those days, they included the song lyrics inside the album cover.  I studied those lyrics like they were the gospel. I even had my mother to read them. I was so sure she would too be convinced of their greatness after she did. But parents just don’t understand. Really, she said, “I just don’t understand what y’all are so angry about.”
My oldest brother was murdered in his college apartment around the time Soul Food was released. Soul Food spoke to the very emotions that beseeched me during the agonizing days and weeks after my brother's death. I truly credit that album for getting me to the other side of through.
 
I often quote Cee-Lo Green’s verse on "I Didn’t Ask to Come” when I talk about my brother's death as well as the death of one of my good friends. The words of that song soothe me when I think about how unexpectedly and tragically they left this earth and those words offer hope on how to go on in the aftermath.
Around the release of Goodie Mob’s second album, Still Standing, I was in need of some serious inspiration so you know I couldn’t wait to get that album. I just KNEW it was going to solve all of my problems.
 
When I was in high school, I always skipped lunch so I could use my lunch money to buy CDs. The day Still Standing came out, I urged my mother to take me to Turtles to buy it. But when I entered the store, I learned that they were already sold out! I was devastated because I had to have that album that day. Eventually we found the album at a music store deep in the 'hood. I rushed home, loaded it in my boom box and waited for the magic to happen. When the album finished playing I felt nothing. “Is that it?” I thought. It didn’t satisfy the way Soul Food did.
That day God taught me several things: He doesn’t work the same way every time and most importantly, never trust in earthly things and earthly people to provide what only God can give. All those other things just don’t hit the spot.
 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"I Want to Work. . ."

 
Meet Jill. Jill is an office manager at a prestigious financial firm that’s part of a global enterprise. They have offices in America, Canada, China, Egypt, and Italy. Everyone in her office loves her sweet disposition and dedicated work ethic. She is also well-known and highly respected among her colleagues in her local office as well as their sister offices all over the world.
Two years before Jill started working at the firm, she was diagnosed with a degenerative disease. The job she had at the time proved to be too strenuous for her condition so she quickly had to find a new gig. Fortunately, her church member knew about an open position at her son-in-law’s office and persuaded him to give Jill a chance.
The financial firm was the perfect work environment for Jill; most of her office supplies were in arm’s length of her desk and all of her work assignments could be done electronically. Their office had a flexible leave policy designed with families in mind. Even though Jill was single and her condition had left her barren, she was thankful for the policy because it served her well when her condition flared.

Jill was very successful for many years at not allowing her illness to negatively impact her work. Her absences were few and even though she had bad days, she still managed to put in 8 to 10 hours a day. But gradually, Jill’s condition began to worsen and she was forced to tell her bosses. They were sympathetic and assured her they would work with her.  

 
Jill’s body could no longer handle 10 hour days so she limited them to 8 and had to use her lunch breaks for doctor appointments. Her bosses were becoming increasingly frustrated because she wasn’t as available as they were used to her being. They started giving her a hard time whenever she asked to leave early and started requesting she bring back a doctor’s excuse though she never had to do that before. She did one better, she brought them a letter from her doctor detailing her chronic condition and explaining she may need time off periodically.
One day, her immediate supervisor called her into his office.

"Jill, have a seat. How are you feeling today?"

Taking her time to gingerly sit in the chair across from her boss' desk, she replied, "Much better today, sir. Thanks for asking. I really appreciate you and the rest of the firm for being so helpful and understanding in terms of my condition."

"Jill, you know you are one of our most valued employees. We are here for you. But... your absences are becoming too frequent," her boss said as he leaned on the side of his desk."

Hesitantly Jill answered, "Yes sir, that's why I brought in the letter from my doctor. I wish I could be here more but sometimes my body doesn't want to cooperate with me," she concluded with a nervous laugh.

"This last time, you didn't even bring in a doctor's excuse," her boss added in a stern voice. What little sympathy he previously had in his tone, now gone.

"I didn't go to the doctor this time. Frankly, if I had the energy to get up and go to the doctor, I would have used that energy to come work. No need going to the doctor every time a chronic condition flares up. It's nothing the doctors can do," Jill stated tersely.

"Well maybe you need to file for disability."

Jill could not believe her ears, "I don't qualify for disability benefits. Most of the time, I can work. If the firm could just continue to work with me, my condition will not be a hardship on the company. I am still producing and executing a great work product. With all do respect, people often complain about individuals who can still work getting disability but when those individuals try to work, the employers are not willing to provide reasonable accommodations."

"Jill, I don't know how we can help you anymore. I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you go."

Damn.

Do you know any Jill's? Can you relate to her? Or, are you a supervisor that has had to make this difficult decision? Please share in the comment section below, tweet me @msasmoore, or on my facebook page.
 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

50 Years Forward, 20 Years Back?


 
Ephesians 6:12-18 NIV (1984) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND YOUR GROUND, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
 

            This year marks the 50th Anniversary of major accomplishments in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, AL and across the United State of America.

             This year, the Supreme Court declared that there is no longer a need for the federal government to protect African Americans from voter discrimination in areas that have a history of doing so.
            
             This year, one of America's most beloved public figures, Paula Deen, was accused by a former Caucasian female employee of discriminating against her African American employees by making them use a separate entrance and bathroom than their non-black counterparts. 
           
            This year, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of senselessly killing Trayvon Martin, an African American 17 year old teenager, because he looked like he didn't belong in his neighborhood.
 
             I've wanted to write a post about race relations in America for sometime now but I didn't know how to put my feelings in a coherent way for my intended audience to really "hear me." I'm afraid that they really don't want to "hear me" because they are convinced racism in America is dead and want African Americans to stop bringing it up.
            
            I desperately want my Caucasian coequals to stop suggesting we forget about racially charged events that happened in the past. Why? Because they are still happening in the present- for example the killings of Trayvon Martin in 2012, Sean Bell in 2006, and James Byrd, Jr. in 1998 just to name a few. These are indications that discrimination against African Americans is still very prevalent in today's society.  
 
 
            Please stop asking us to forget when my own father- who was active in the United States Air Force at the time- was threatened in the late 60s by white men for driving a car that looked too expensive for a black man to own. I desperately want you to see why some of us  believe racism still exists. If you can't understand at least consider the possibility that because it didn't happen to you and/or people you identify with, it's hard to imagine.
 
 
             I remember when James Byrd, Jr. was lynched by dragging in Jasper, TX by three white men. I'll never forget, it was my first day at Camp Anytown, Alabama- a week-long camp designed to teach high school students how to fight bias, bigotry, and racism in their communities.  Some of the most wonderful people I know, I met through Camp Anytown. While we were cut off from the outside world, the very thing we were there to learn how to prevent had occurred. The directors felt it was important to pause from their regular programming to share this news with us.
 
             Often, I wonder that when we have open forums about race in America, are we really engaging in meaningful discourse or is our main objective to defend our positions? Is anyone actually willing to alter their position?
 
            We have five months left in 2013. How can we ensure that the rest of this year better exemplifies the triumphs America achieved in 1963? Let's remember that we are fighting against evil and not against each other as we move forward towards the 75th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. Hopefully, we won't have to have this discussion in 2038.