AKA Sorority Sister Kamala Harris

2020 will never be remembered as an easy year. Nor one of the happiest. It certainly isn’t a boring one though. My mom said that Kamala Harris’s nomination for Vice President is one of the most exciting things to happen in a long time. My mom is an AKA, just like Harris, so they are sorority sisters for life.

Growing up, I always knew that my mother was part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and that pink and green were the colors. Two of her best friends, my godmother and my brother’s godmother are also her sorors and they are all thrilled.

While I never pledged to a sorority myself, being part of the AKA sisterhood has been part of my mother’s identity for as long as I can remember. With nearly 300,000 members, Harris has a powerful force standing behind her and financially supporting the campaign as well. Founded in 1908, that number is significant to the organization.

It’s not surprising, that soon after Harris became Biden’s running mate, thousands of donations in the amount of $19.08 showed up. According a Washington Post article, more than 14,000 of these donations poured in, adding up to more than a quarter million dollars. And the money keeps coming in.

While you may see women dressed in pink and green at some campaign events, you won’t see any AKA symbols, says a Richmond Free Press article. Also, don’t look to see an endorsement of Biden and Harris. As a tax-exempt nonprofit entity, there are limits to their allowed political activity. Keeping their tax-exempt status requires compliance with IRS regulations. Non-partisan voter education drives are generally okay, but not much more than that.

The debate between Pence and Harris is tomorrow and I’ve been looking forward to it. However, given what’s going on with the spread of the virus around the White House, I’m a bit nervous. Pence was at the superspreader event, so he really should be in quarantine and not out and about. Apparently they will be separated by plexiglass, so that hopefully will make the event much safer.

Every day appears stranger than the last. I cannot even imagine the drama that tomorrow’s debate will bring.

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Photo Credit: Luke Harold | Flickr

Angela Davis Returns To Brandeis University

On Friday, February 8th, Angela Davis returned to Brandeis University. My aunt and I are both alums, and were thrilled to see her speak at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Department of African and African-American Studies.

If you haven’t seen Angela Davis speak in person, go see her while you have the chance. She is 75 years old, and a living legend with much to teach us all. I will definitely be reading her autobiography soon.

Hearing her talk about her life, I realized that much of what many of us think we know about her is not true. There is “an idea” of her out in the ether – the mythology of a violent militant angry black communist woman with a big afro who was a member of the Black Panther Party. A stereotype that was attributed to Michelle Obama and to many other black women generally.

Based on this idea, I had always assumed that she had been part of the student takeover of Ford Hall in 1969. She actually graduated in 1965. She was long gone when the takeover happened! Her studies at Brandeis focused on French and Philosophy.

Davis spoke about how she was never part of the Black Panther leadership and doesn’t know how that idea started. She only briefly worked with them and thinks that most people don’t understand that most of the Black Panthers were women.

I was fascinated to learn a while back that one of the biggest impacts that the Black Panthers have had on American society is free breakfast for school children.

I could have listened to Davis speak for hours more and hope to see her speak again. It was so interesting hearing the influence that she has had on decades of black Brandeis alumni. So many people in the audience stood up and told her that they decided to attend Brandeis after learning that is where she graduated from.

There definitely is a certain amount of pride to be associated with the same school that she attended. To see her during Black History Month at this time in history was especially poignant. What a gift.

If you’d like to see the video from the event, you can watch it online.

7 Favorite Podcasts

Do you listen to podcasts? I love them! They are such a great source of inspiration and information. Plus, listening to them at work helps time fly.

I’ve also found that the more podcasts I listen to, the more I find. So here are seven podcasts, in no particular order, that I’ve been enjoying recently.

If you have any favorites, please share them in the comments. I’m always looking for more!

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A Hungry Society with Korsha Wilson

The Make Light Show with Karen Walrond

The Lively Show with Jess Lively

How I Built This with Guy Raz

The Creativity Habit with Daphne Cohn

Black Girl in Om with Lauren Ash and Deun Ivory

Patriarchy the Podcast (Hiding in the Bathroom) with Morra Aarons-Mele

Oprah’s Cecil B. de Mille Award Golden Globes Speech

When I was reading about the planned activism for the Golden Globes last night, I read that this was a movement, not a moment. From #MeToo to #TimesUp, things are definitely changing.

But I absolutely believe there are specific moments in this movement. Oprah Winfrey’s speech last night was one of them. It was part teaching moment, part rallying cry, celebration, gratitude and memories.

It was everything. It was so much that I don’t think any of us really know what it was. Yet.

It was the type of speech that needs to be read multiple times [here is the textwatched repeatedly, studied and looked back on.

In the future, when we look back on it, maybe we will understand the nuances based on what comes after. My blog has given me many gifts. One is the gift of perspective. I can look back and see myself growing and changing through my writing. This is why I keep blogging.

I can also see changes beyond me. Changes where I live, in this country and the world. Only time let’s us see things from a distance, along with keeping a written record of the present.

Part of the beauty of this speech is the way that Oprah speaks. It’s not just that Oprah is giving you a car. It’s how she says, “You get a car! You get a car!”

Merely reading the words doesn’t do the speech justice. The same words gather energy and intention based on her inflections.

These two passages below resonated the strongest with me. And I think with the audience as well. Seeing peoples’ reactions was just as powerful. Oprah truly moved the crowd. And a nation.

For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up. …

I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who have withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon.

After this speech, many have said that Oprah will run for President in 2020. People love the hype of speculation and jump to conclusions over anything she does. I hope that she would want some government experience first. At least a run for Senate.

And to be truly honest, I have been very disheartened by her lack of speaking out against Trump. The last that I heard her mention about him was right after the election, when she said that we should give him a chance. That was like a punch in the gut. I was shocked.

The #MeToo movement reminds me that we don’t really know the stars that we admire. They are just people who happen to be famous. It’s hard, because their art can inspire so much emotion. Nobody should be put on a pedestal.

I have admired Oprah for decades. She’s only human too. People we love and admire will eventually disappoint us. Nobody is perfect.

So I cannot speculate about what Oprah will do next. All is know for sure is that her speech last night was a moment to remember.

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Screenshot: YouTube