Commentary: Never-Ending Downward Spiral of Violence Against Women Continues

For some reason, I chose to ignore the daily morning newscast on television. I didn’t have any prior knowledge or extra sensory perception nor any fore-knowledge, I didn’t know that a quiet suburban neighborhood of West Bloomfield, Mich., was under siege as women in our society today have come under siege from politicians. I didn’t want to start my day with anything negative. I came across  a story of  a domestic violence  situation in a nearby town. As I sat waiting for my car to be serviced, I was moved by the news report of the  explosive violence unfolding.  I was shocked. I couldnt’ believe that what I had seen in communities  around the country had now hit home.

I am no stranger to violence. After all, as a survivor of domestic violence it stands to reason that I now advocate for an end to violence against women. Here on TV right in my own backyard was what I could clearly  see  was a case  of  violence against women. I knew immediately why financial executive Ricky Coley would barricade himself in his own  home. I knew it wouldn’t end well. Needless to say I won’t increase the pain of his survivors by outlining the details of what took place that Monday. But I do want to say we have created a culture of violence against women. Ringing  from political platforms  around the country , from the halls of power to to campaign stumps   it seems an open  war on women has been engaged.

Make no mistake about it, we’ve already won the war. We won in Roe v Wade, we won when we earned the right to vote, we won when we could choose who we love and how  we choose to become pregnant and we won when we can deterimine if terminating a pregnancy is in the best interest of mother and child .  It seems that rich and powerful men are determined to take us back to a time when we were powerless and had few  choices over  our reproductive rights.  If that’s not enough, imagine  a political candidate  running for president   being endorsed by an influential  religious leader who is quoted  as saying” since men can’t beat their wives anymore, might as well move to Saudi Arabia”  Unbelievable. This is violence against women.

Violence against women is real. We must work to end it. We must stop the violence.

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David Maraniss’ “Barack Obama: The Story” Pokes Worrisome Holes in President Obama’s Personal Narrative

David Maraniss' "Barack Obama: The Story" Pokes Worrisome Holes in President Obama's Personal Narrative

COMMENTARY:  The White House has a few reasons to be worried about David Maraniss’ new book, “Barack Obama: The Story,” and yes, Michelle Obama is one of those reasons, but that’s for a separate discussion. It seems odd, but not surprising from a publicity and sales perspective, that the book would be released June 19, ahead of the presidential election in November. I guess, David Maraniss is President Obama’s David, in the story of David vs. Goliath.  The fallout has started and we have now learned that Obama fabricated the story of his girlfriends in his memoir. You know, he said the girlfriend was a composite of all his girlfriends. Huh? In other words, the book seems to refute the self-portrait he skillfully wove for himself in 1995 with “Dreams of My Father.” I am taking a position that many in the black community would not dare take or even question Obama’s motives, but I believe this book is an eye-opener into the very essence of this man, who won us all over with the slogan, “change you can believe in.”

David Maraniss is a very credible source, having won a Pulitzer Prize (for his biography on Bill Clinton) and has a long and storied journalism career. You see, Maraniss, a former Washington Post reporter,  isn’t a Matt Drudge or Andrew Breitbart (legacy) looking the break the next scandal, but a biographer who aims to capture the essence of those whose lives he delves into, for insight and understanding of those subjects. He isn’t a hack looking for his 15 minutes of fame. On that basis, he can’t be dismissed. He shouldn’t.  The president is concerned about the backlash that could come from this book, so much so that he granted David Maraniss a 90-minute interview in the Oval Office. Yeah, he wanted to have his side of the story articulated to the nth degree. President Obama comes across as a control freak and this book would take him out of his comfort zone because he can’t control what is written and how it is received.

David Maraniss said, “I have done extensive research for all of his years leading up the White House and intend to write another volume, but not for many years — after more documents open up and the story of his presidency settles somewhat. I want to write for history, not for the moment.” Therein lies the problem the book will create for President Obama. He doesn’t want to be nailed down and that will take him off his message and force him to recenter himself.

I will be the first to admit, I drank the Obama Kool-Aid during the 2008 presidential campaign. I had initially supported Hillary Clinton because of what she represented to me and the familiarity with the Clinton legacy. But after the Iowa caucus, I started to take a second look at then-candidate Barack Obama. He masterfully weaved a fantasy that many believed in and hoped that their children could aspire to be just like him, from rags to riches. A story of defying the odds in a country that had such a horrific history of racial injustice and discrimination — first the Native American Indians and then blacks.

When former president Bill Clinton referred to his stance on the war as a fairy tale, it enraged many blacks because they thought he was being slighted because of his race.  Bill Clinton’s exact words were “Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.”  That comment marked the end of the “love affair” between the Clintons and the black community. During the 2008 Democratic primary, senior advisers to Hillary Clinton complained that they weren’t running against Barack Obama the guy. His record, policies and  résumé was awfully  thin and the fact that he could sustain a respectable candidacy was mindboggling and a “fairy tale.” They said, “We’re not running against a real person,” one of them said at the time. “We are running against a story.”

President Obama and his team put together a tremendously successful political marketing campaign in 2008, and we all fell in love with him. Many weak at the knees when he graced any stage. Young women went nuts, like “Obama Girl.” On a serious note, he served as a metaphor that America had finally become a post-racial society in which a man of mixed race and socioeconomic standing could become our president.  While I don’t think America is in the post-racial era, I do think he unified this country after he won the election. Momentarily.

David Maraniss’ new book may not be a game changer for the presidential election in terms of votes because Mitt Romney is at a deficit with women, youth, black and Hispanic voters. But it may change the way people view Barack Obama, the person. I find it somewhat disturbing and disquieting that President Obama couldn’t bear to tell his story about his early years as it was, not to use a composite sketch of the woman in his life — Genevieve Cook. He applied “personal compression” to his personal and political narrative. Shouldn’t people be a little unnerved by that revelation? He couldn’t bring himself to talk about the women, Genevieve Cook, Alex McNear and any other woman he had a relationship with before Michelle Obama,  but to create a narrative about them as he saw fit. Well, what else has he compressed in his journey through life?

Genevieve Cook wrote in her dairy on March 9, 1984, she had “a sense of you [Barack] biding your time and drawing others’ cards out of their hands for careful inspection — without giving too much of your own way — played with a good poker face. … I feel that you carefully filter everything in your mind and heart — legitimate, admirable, really. … But there’s something also there of smoothed veneer, of guardedness … I’m still left with this feeling of … a bit of a wall — the veil.” Um, that’s what we are left with and that’s why this book is worrisome to the White House. What else is behind that veil Mr. President?

Walking Tall in my ‘Womanish Shoes’


Womanish: African American colloquialism (mostly in the South) for a young girl who is acting too grown; a  designation usually given by the elder women in the community who predict that such a young girl will soon become the town’s next wild woman.

I am pretty conservative, and though I have often admired the stylish flair other women possess, my wardrobe was always safe, a quiet classic look . . . until the fateful day I walked into my favorite department store and a pair of shoes called, no, make that fairly screamed out my name. I bought those shoes. I couldn’t help myself; I had to possess them. They were, and still are, bold and brash. I called them my “womanish” shoes.

Those black, pointy-toed four inch heel kick the door in look out world I’m coming through shoes took control of my personality. Every time I slipped my feet into those shoes and pulled those leather straps up and across my insteps (just a whisper above bewitching ankles) to unite them with silver buckles that hovered over sensual bare-naked heels, my feet arched and a deep throated baritone whispered in my ear, “Oooo Baby, they look good on you!”

In these shoes I was no longer a rather dumpy fifty-something rolling down the hill towards senior citizen land woman. Instead I was a thirty-something self-assured Diva (twenty-something is much too young for these shoes) whose mere entree into any room turned the men into blithering idiots, while the women who were Cinderellas before I stepped through the door turned into pumpkins when I made my grand entrance.

These shoes made the ring around my waist disappear; they elongated my neck, and the curves of my youth that had acquiesced to gravity years ago immediately snapped back into place with alacrity and panache. Instantly I was smart, stylish, a witty and brilliant female bon vivant everyone wanted to know.

My womanish shoes turned my everyday much too loud and common laugh into a head thrown back scintillating sparkle that trilled its way past dazzling white teeth through slightly open, slightly moist, red glazed lips. Those shoes made me want to throw my head from side to side while I danced, hollered and “shook a groove thing.”

I bought that first pair of womanish shoes before my husband, who was a pastor, died. I walked into church just a little self-conscious about my new pair of shoes when a good deacon walked over to me, looked at my feet, raised his eyebrows and smiled rather suggestively. I had barely recovered from that unexpected reaction when another good brother walked by, nodded at my feet and said, with a glint in his eye, “Nice shoes.”  That’s when it hit me; “These shoes have as much power for me as that old geezer’s red sports car with the young trophy wife in the passenger seat has for him. And not only do the shoes have power, they somehow magically empower the wearer to the point where confidence overrides insecurity causing the wearer to walk just a little bit taller.” But, since I was still a married woman, whenever anyone commented on my shoes (mostly men), I would do my best to smile demurely, say “thank-you” and pretend that I was not even aware of the fact that my shoes were womanish.

After my husband died, I upped the ante on the shoes. I went womanish shoe shopping, probably a by-product of my grief, aka shopping therapy. Today, whenever I wear a pair from my ever growing collection, I make sure that the people who knew me “when” know that I bought my first pair before my husband died, especially since it’s now mostly women who comment on my shoes and say “my, how you’ve changed.” One just has to stop those shoe rumors before they start . . . sometimes. 


  • Womanish shoes ooze confidence.
  • Womanish shoes mean what they say, but they are never mean in anything they say.
  • Womanish shoes are never self conscious.
  • Womanish shoes have attitude, but they are never vain.
  • Womanish shoes always know what to say and when to say what they have to say.
  • Womanish shoes never cry “uncle.”
  • Womanish shoes walk the red carpet in faith.
  • Womanish shoes dance before the Lord with great joy.
  • Womanish shoes make a $10 grab bag dress look like haute couture.
  • Womanish shoes take life challenges one step at a time.
  • Womanish shoes praise God standing up.
  • Womanish shoes walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear.
  • Womanish shoes may grow old but they never age.
  • Womanish shoes never compare themselves to the pair of shoes standing next to them
  • Womanish shoes celebrate life in Christ

Until my shoe epiphany in the store that fateful day, my shoe wardrobe consisted of sensible black shoes that all looked the same, sensible black shoes that were comfortable and homely and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Back then, I did not want, or desire, the attention womanish shoes brought to the wearer. I was more concerned about what people thought of me.  Today, I am most definitely a womanish shoe wearing person. I am constantly on the prowl for the next pair. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to keep my public wondering. After all, wonderful and marvelous things do happen when I slip into those shoes. This I do swear and affirm, so help me Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, and all those purveyors of womanish shoes.

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More People Scaling Back for Christmas, Saying No to Rampant Consumerism Holiday Season Brings

More people are scaling back for Christmas and saying no to the rampant consumerism the holiday season brings. We didn’t go all out and purchase a lot of gifts for our two kids. They both got three video games and a handheld game console each (which were all on sale). That’s a far cry from the amount of money we spent four years ago. We started scaling back three years ago because the consumerism was taking the real meaning out of Christmas. We see it has hit a fever pitch last Friday with brawls at malls nationwide over the limited edition Air Jordan sneakers, which retail for $180. This isn’t what Christmas is all about. It’s about celebrating one’s Christian faith and being with family. It’s not about the material things. We also give to charity each year. It’s the right thing to do. I learned at an early age that being a servant-leader is what really counts. My parents instilled that in me and we are instilling that in our kids. We have to help the less fortunate among us. We are each other’s keepers. That’s the essence of Christmas. Sadly, that has been lost in America.

We have also decided not to have an expensive dinner as well. One of my cousins is visiting and we are just going to kick back, relax, have pizza and jerk chicken. We just want to have a low-key Christmas day and recapture the true essence of the holiday season. I am pleased to see that there are many people who share our views as well. While retailers may have broken records after Thanksgiving. According to research company ComScore, retail and online sales are up 15% from 2010. A Gallup poll also found Americans expect to spend an average of $756 on Christmas gifts, $70 more than a year ago.  Forecasters expect spending on Christmas to rise 3.1% to $3.4 billion this holiday season. Well, we didn’t spend anywhere near $764 and our kids are just happy and content.

Most people are either watching their spending on their own free will, or have been forced to do so through job losses and being in a financial pinch. I would like to echo the words of Patti LaBelle’s song, “The Reason for the Season,” is all about the way you are living and sharing should be a part of your life. “Don’t let the advertisements rule you, the reason for the season is His [Jesus] love.” That sums it up in a nutshell. Listen carefully to the lyrics of this wonderful song:

I Am Concerned, But I Do not Care

Once upon a time there was a parent who loved a child, a child who loved a parent, a friend who loved a friend, a man who loved a woman, a woman who loved a man.

One day, the parent, child, friend, woman, man, discovered that the person they loved, the beloved, had a huge problem, a problem that held the beloved in demonic clutches of such magnitude that they would not (or would not) admit that they were in bondage to that thing, or anything like that thing.

The more the parent, child, friend, man, woman, tried to make the beloved see the magnitude of the problem and what it was doing to the relationship, the more the beloved pulled away.

Time passed and the parent, child, friend, man, woman, became more and more angry and frustrated, lashing out each time the problem took control of the beloved. Each time the beloved ignored the tantrums and the threats, preferring the companionship of the problem to the love of the parent, child, friend, man, woman.

The days passed and the confrontations became even more agitated and angry, but the problem remained, enemy of the one who loved, cherished by the one beloved.

One day, the parent, child, friend, man woman grew weary of wrestling with the beloved over the problem but did not know how to move out from under the shadow of the problem when a still small voice spoke two words: “Be still!” In that moment the quiet strength of that voice removed the weight of the problem from the back of the one who loved.

The voice continued, “You can be concerned, but you do not have to care anymore.”

The one who loved was a little confused and replied, “Isn’t concern and care the same thing.?

“No,” the still, small voice replied, “Concern means you have a heart for the well-being of the one you love; care brings with it anxiety and worry, a state that keeps your soul in constant turmoil. You can be concerned but you do not have to care.”

Today, the parent, child, friend, man, woman is still concerned about the well being of the beloved, but they do not care anymore, and that has made all the difference in the life of the parent, child, friend, man, woman who have learned to declare, “i am concerned, but I do not care.”

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God

Weymouth New Testament
1 Peter 5:7
Throw the whole of your anxiety upon Him, because He Himself cares for you.


Raquel Miller prays, listens and believes God

In order to win Olympic Gold and seal your fate in history – one must have belief. Now some, like the famed ending of R Kelly’s song sing I BELIEVE I CAN FLY – ‘Because I believe in me’ – then there are the athletes that transcend well beyond a belief that ends in themselves.

One such athlete and Olympic trials qualifier is Raquel Miller; female boxer – who, when boxing, writes Scriptures on her hands, literally. “I write on my hands before I get my hands wrapped. There is one Scripture where it states ‘Be bold and have no fear of them for God is with you and HE will not leave you nor forsake you.’ I don’t want to butcher the Scripture, but that is one I put on my hand,” shared Raquel.

Raquel Miller is a true believer in God who’s sole salvation is based upon the Christian Faith – attends worship services each and every Sunday; the only day away from her boxing training. And, as the youth of America would say ‘Don’t get it twisted’ – she identifies herself as a true follower of The LORD Jesus Christ and therefore separates herself, like Tim Tebow – QB for the Denver Broncos, as one who displays her faith proud and boldly amidst the sport in which she contends. Can we get an Amen? AMEN!

I grew up in Christianity, but – unfortunately – my mom had dealt with many situations with the churches…so insisted on us reading our bibles and finding God our own way,” stated Raquel.

One incident where a friend was murdered outside her mother’s home was a major event in her life that caused a real collision with her faith. Although she was a believer in Jesus Christ she did not attend church on a regular basis, this incident moved her to accept an invitation from her sister who had just started attending a new church; BEREAN CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, SF.

Berean, led by Pastor Gary Banks and located on Divisidero, is where the young Raquel found refuge to help her cope with life and begin to understand more of how faith intersects life.

A lot of times at church it was hard for me to get an understanding because I couldn’t understand the way the preachers were delivering the message,” stated Raquel. However, the struggle to understand the messages preached did not deter the young lady from receiving comfort. Raquel shares, “When I first got there (Berean Christian Fellowship), it was just like a sense of overwhelming emotion that came over me and he (Pastor Banks) asked if there was anyone who needed special prayer to come to the front and I just came to the front. Before I knew it I was on my knees praying and crying. I was 18 years old at the time. I just cried and it was the first time I had ever felt the Spirit telling me that I was going to be ok. I had been so scared I thought I was going to be killed. I didn’t know what was going to happen. A lot of my friends where dying and I never had really seen my friends get murdered. Yet this time it happened in front of my mother’s house. That was the first time I actually started really leaning on faith. From then on that is when I got saved and it was then that I would go to church, although still not consistently.”

Although Raquel would not attend church as consistently as she does now – she did read her bible although she was having a difficult time understanding what she was reading. She credits her father, who for most of her life has been absent, for providing her a simplified study bible to help her comprehend the truth of the scriptures. He also found faith in God and is now a very real presence in her life.

It was at age 19 that Raquel started a daily practice – getting on her knees and praying. Every morning she would get up and thank God and not too long after did her “calling” to boxing became really real.

Boxing is credited by Raquel Miller as bringing her closer to God. She recounts, “I started leaning on God. I am like “God I need you and I need YOU to tell me and show me if this is the path YOU want me on. Open the doors for me LORD and break down these walls – break down these barriers.” It just started sharpening my faith.”

Armed with a study bible she received from her father, she began to consume the Scriptures. “Since then the bible is the only book I actually read. In the back of my bible has like ‘Are you stressed, depressed are you worried’ it has all these areas where you can read chapters and scriptures. That has strengthened my faith so much and I have prayed consistently. I ask “God if this is the way show me. Bless me with good people. Keep me safe on this journey and that has exactly what God had been doing – HE has kept me high on faith,” stated Raquel.

Although her faith in God would increase she had a couple of moments where her ambition to have just one boxing match would fade to black. After her first gym experience – Raquel stated, “It wasn’t just a boxing gym and they didn’t really take me that serious. It kind of discouraged me because I didn’t feel the gym was a serious as I needed it to be. Also, I wasn’t disciplined enough. Like I said, I have always known how to street fight, so I didn’t know that boxing and street fighting were two totally different forms of fighting.

So when I got there I didn’t want to put in the actually work it took to spar. I was like – I know how to fight, let me fight – let me get in the ring and spar and fight. They said “NO!” They said, “If you want to box you need to show us that you are disciplined enough in the gym. You need to work on your stance, your form, your jab.” I was not disciplined enough so I said “Forget it; I don’t want to do it then. If you guys don’t want to let me spar then I quit.”

Although she quit she had not yet had her first boxing match and sensed God was not pleased. She recalls, “God just kept talking to me and HE kept saying ‘So you’re just going to give up? Like I told you try it and just see what you’re missing. Just have one fight and if that doesn’t go forward then you have completed it.’ So I let some years go by and at 21 years old I picked up boxing again. I walked into the gym and this time I was more determined and was like “I am going to see this through.” I walked into the gym and this time I’m a little older – so all the guys were like looking at me and I felt a little uncomfortable – but I said “I’m not going to let it stop me.”

Although her desire was to “not let it stop her,” it did discourage her. Now in her first boxing gym experience (now 21 years old) she became discouraged after having made major changes to diet by transforming all her eating habits. She was also dedicated to training and learning her craft on a level unparalleled in her life, at the same time – she felt as though she wasn’t being taken serious by the gym personnel. So she just quit.

After quitting Raquel recounts, “And so, God just kept working on me and saying “You’re just going to quit? At least give it your all – at least give it your all.” It was shortly after this encounter with God that Raquel took a vacation trip with a friend to Brazil.

Raquel would recommit herself to boxing and to her credit is now a 2012 Olympic hopeful in the inaugural year of Women’s Olympic Boxing. She has the opportunity of a lifetime to be among the first Olympians to represent the United States of America in a sport once banned.

My goal is to be an Olympian. My goal is to take my place in history. People ask me if I am interested in going pro – the more and more I do it the more and more I feel like I desire to become a World Champion. However, right now my goal is my goal – to defy the odds and to write my name in those history books as the first young lady to say she became an Olympian and got the Gold Medal. My goal is London, England,” stated Raquel.

When asked if just making the Olympic Team would be sufficient – Raquel quickly responded, “No! Not good enough. First off, it’s a blessing. If God sees that I go that far then I am definitely blessed and honored for that opportunity, but I believe in pushing the limits. I only want the best for myself. I have been grateful and I am thankful for all the many blessings God has blessed me with – and if I am blessed enough to be a part of that history I will be happy, but GOD told me to set my eyes on the prize and that prize is the gold medal with hands raised. So that is what I am going for – my eyes are on the Gold Medal.”



To Read Part II:  THE BOXER


My Self walks up to me and says, “So, another birthday.”

I say, “Yep.”

My Self says, “A big one, huh?”

I say, “Yep.”

My Self says, “You do know you have more years behind you than in front of you, right?”

I say, “Yep.”

My Self says, “So, what do you have to say for yourself, all those years and nothing tangible to show of any great value?”

“Oh,” I say, “You are so wrong!”

I have had more laughter than tears, more joy than sorrow.
More friends than enemies, more sweet than bitter.
I’ve seen more sunrises than sunsets, more sunshine than rain.
I’ve experienced more kisses than kicks, more triumphs than failures.
I’ve seen more ups than downs, received more blessings than curses.
I’ve seen more children play than fight, received more hugs than slaps.
And each night I wrap myself in the warm comfort of God’s love and fall asleep sure of this one thing:
Life has been more celebration than loss.

I am grateful.
I am thankful.
I am blessed.

Now, run and tell that!!!

When Things Don’t Go My Way

From time to time, I have the privilege to walk my granddaughter to a street corner where she is picked up by the school bus. It is not a long walk, a hop, skip and a jump from the house, but the walk is filled with her delighted chatter and little chirps of laughter as she points out various things along the way, especially the different kinds of dogs out in the early morning taking their owners for a walk.

This a.m., as we are walk along, I look down at her and notice that she is wearing the necklace her mother just brought her this past weekend. I understand the delight in being able to go to school wearing something new, the lure of being able to show it off to your classmates as they marvel at it, awestruck by your blessing (something we adults still do). But, I also note the slender chain and I say, as casually as I can (grandchildren have been known to be temperamental), “Maybe, after today, you should leave your necklace at home. I would hate for you to be playing on the school yard and someone accidentally break it.”

My granddaughter looks up at me and says, “Okay.”

In spite of her acquiescence, I continue to mull over the possibility that she will return home this afternoon in tears with a broken necklace in hand. I try to tread lightly as I say, “Maybe, you should not wear it today. Wouldn’t want it to get accidentally broken on the school yard (hopefully, repetition underscores my point).”

My granddaughter looks up at me again, but this time her look is wrapped in stubbornness as she shakes her head, “No.”

I continue to insist, eventually bearding the lion in its den to remove the necklace from around her neck. She assumes the stance I have seen before, her “I am not happy pose,” but just for a quick minute before she looks at the navy blue peacoat I have on and asks, “Is that my coat?”

I laugh and say, “How would I wear your jacket? I would only be able to fit one arm in it.”

My granddaughter laughs as she imagines Ganny wearing her navy blue dress coat on one arm. The removal of her necklace apparently no longer an issue, we resume conversations about passing dogs and late school buses.

On my return walk back home, I think about how quickly my granddaughter got over her pique about the necklace. I then think about how spiteful we adults can become when things do not go our way. How we continue to chew on a slight until the “offense” blocks the view of any grace that might be headed our way. But we have, in those moments, the option to choose either tears or laughter, joy or bitterness, delight or dismay.

We Christians often declare of God’s goodness to others. My question is this: Does His goodness only apply when things are going well, or is His goodness applicable for every moment of every day, even when someone comes along and removes our new necklace?

I’m just thinking out loud………

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