Own Your Story, Write Your Truth

I typically spend my Monday morning catching up on the previous night’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. After last week’s stunning election, it was refreshing to have a little levity around this unsettling change of power coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. What I enjoyed most from this week’s episode was John’s power call to action for all of us. He gave an extensive list of organizations that advocate for women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and immigrant communities in which we call ALL give our time, dollars, and support. As John gave his powerful call to action, it inspired me to decree one of my own, which is simply to




Now more than ever, we need to hear each other’s stories about our pain and joy, our disappointment and victories, our breakdowns and breakthroughs. Many of us are hurting, in shock, in awe, and just disillusioned by what just happened to our collective sense of what it means to be a citizen in this country. I was so stunned that I tamped down my own rather despondent blog post last week. But now is the time to re-energize your blog, work on that book you’ve been meaning to get out forever, and GIVE WORDS and POWER in a safe space to whatever you are experiencing right now. Even if you’re not ready to share your words in a public forum, take some time today to break out an old journal and just write whatever you are feeling right now.

Regardless of who holds the highest office in this country, no one, and I mean NO ONE, can take away your God-given right to OWN YOUR STORY and WRITE YOUR TRUTH. 

When That Silver Lining Shows Up, I’ll Let You Know

I tried, ya’ll. I REALLY tried.

As a relentless optimist, I was searching for ANY silver lining I could find yesterday. I fueled up my morning with this great 70s Soul Power Soundtrack I created with songs by Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, and Curtis Mayfield. I pepped myself up by saying, “Alright, Leah, you just have to do your part and mentor more students, publish more books, and stay on your purpose.” I walked out of my apartment in Bed-Stuy feeling like my morning pep rally for one was going to carry me through the day.

It didn’t.

I could feel the sadness as soon as I boarded the A train into the city. I couldn’t help but see tired eyes and heavy hearts in every direction.

I heard it in the disappointment, shock, and heaviness of my networking group members.

I felt it in the aching drop of my soul when I learned my beloved brother-in-law passed just a few hours earlier.

Fuck it.

I tried, ya’ll. I REALLY tried.

My soundtrack changed to Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m A.A.d city, and I walked around the city after my networking meeting in a bit of a daze. There were no lights and wonder in my Big Apple journey yesterday. My soul merged into the physical gloom of the overcast sky and the downtrodden hearts I felt all around me.

I started thinking about my Daddy as I walked. My father was born in New York in 1930, moved to Pittsburgh as young child in the late 40s, joined the Army in 1950, married my mother in 1958, created a family of nine children, and built that legacy by working as a painter and a preacher. The incredible strength that it took for my father to build our family as a black man in America with limited means and resources boggles my mind and humbles my spirit.

So when ya’ll hear me waxing poetic about my journey in New York, it’s not just that I’m happy to be here—I’m OVERJOYED to be in my father’s home city carrying forth his legacy and prayerfully making him proud.

Living in New York in 2016 as my father’s youngest daughter and being able to add the words EDITOR, WRITER, and ENTREPENEUR to my own evolving legacy is a PHENOMENAL blessing that I don’t take for granted. But the fact that what I’ve built could now be threated by this new ACCEPTABLE tone of intolerance is frightening.

I tried, ya’ll. I REALLY tried.

When that silver lining shows up, I’ll let you know.