Monthly Archives: December 2011

Honesty: Rae Lewis Thornton


What does this mean? I have had to ponder this question after reading the tweets of Rae Lewis Thornton, Diva living with AIDS.Thornton relentlessly tweets about living with AIDS including herpes and other illnesses and challenges that come along with the disease. IVs, pain, condom’s and the RLT Collection (bracelets) are the main topics of her tweets. On the weekends she is particularly poignant reminding women and men to use condoms and avoid an incident that could change their lives forever. 

Her message is powerful- Protect yourself because AIDS is NOT the life you would choose for yourself. I am amazed at her courage and commitment to prevent the spread of communicable infections. Reading her tweets and blogs makes me wonder what the world would be like if more of us openly talked about our “illnesses” be it mental, emotional, or physical. Thronton tells the world when she is on her way to her doctors appointments, the results of her different tests, and the intricacies of her medical process. Overwhelmingly, her followers express their appreciation for her honesty.

I often ask myself what prevents me from revealing the worst of me that has led to the best of me. I use this description because I realize that by learning the “worst” things about myself, I have been able to encourage, understand, and motivate others in a way I was unable to do so before. Despite the pain, Thornton has embraced her illness as an opportunity to educate others. Why is this SO difficult for the rest of the world to do? Who are we protecting? I recently read a book by an up and coming rapper/writer/poet, who alluded, that often things are not a secret; we just choose to keep it to ourselves.

I assume that we think we are protecting our families and loved ones.  For example, how will this reveal affect my mom or my best friend, or my boyfriend? Although our families mean a great deal to us, when is the right time to decide that a reveal is more beneficial for the greater good rather than the secrets we keep to “protect” the minority (family). In 2011 (when hardly anything is secret) is it worth keeping secrets?

As I write this I am asking myself more questions in my head as well as answering some of them as I go along. But even as I contradict myself and find reasons as to why the world is not ready for the reveal it all boils down to deciding if the reveal will cause more stress or more pain, more freedom or more boundaries.

Rae Lewis Thornton and her advocacy for AIDS prevention proves that honesty is a solution, and for that I appreciate her.

How has honesty impacted your life?

Below is a link to some quotes on honesty. Enjoy!

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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


Building on Beauty….Asset-Based Development

Have you heard of the term Asset-Based Development?

The premise of this theory and popular form of evaluating issues, is to focus on strengthening skills and qualities and resources that already exist in whatever you are trying to develop. Asset-Based Development is most commonly known to be used in the fields of community and youth development, but my quick google search showed that even computer programmers use the term.

I first became familiar with this while working toward my masters at Columbia College Chicago. My cohort and I would spend hours workshopping how to implement effective programs and strategies in communities using what was already present. I immediately fell in love with the glass half-full approach to improvement. By focusing on the beauty that was already present, developers are able to work toward true enhancement instead of focusing on how to alleviate a problem which often does not bring about innovation. A team working on enhancement thinks broad and creative in contrast to a team that is thinking about stopping an occurrence, they are usually forced to think more narrow and stifling.

I could probably give you atleast 5 examples of how to implement AB_D (fill in the blank with whatever your area of development is), but instead I have included links below for you to explore. I also welcome your questions, suggestions, and comments on this unique method of development.

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Proper English…Weed Out Mechanism

Proper English…Weed Out Mechanism

Recently I listened to my friend as she did a mock presentation for her dissertation defense. I love having these opportunities because I am able to learn a lot about a topic without having to do the research and read a ton of books to understand an issue. She was discussing teachers use of African American Venacular English (AAVE), to me, also known as “ebonics”. What I took away from her presentation is to check myself when it comes down to assessing communication abilities.

My friends lifelong research is about validating cultural communication variances and dismantling the use of standard english as the only “right way” to speak or be heard.
One example she used was “she be going to the store”. I immediately laughed out loud because I knew where she was going with the topic.
One of her students said “Ms. X, ‘don’t she be going to the store?’ is a correct sentence” She told the student “yes.” My friend the researcher explained that for students that speak AAVE, “she be going…” means that is something the noun does all the time and that “she be going” is the way to emphasize the action, and its meaning implies that not only does she go to the store, but she ALWAYS goes to the store”.
In that moment, I saw the beauty in what I have spent time critiquing, turning my nose up at, and trying to “correct.” Cultural language speakers have learned how to communicate feelings, expressions, and happenings in a way that sometimes can only be narrated, capitalized, or even repeated when trying to explain in standard english.
I felt liberated as I began to understand how the “proper use of english” has become another method to lower the self-esteem and dreams of those that struggle with accepted grammar. I am excited to know that there were scholars fighting for acceptance of cultural speech and its relevance.
Have you had any experiences with feeling ashamed of the way you speak? Have you ever worked with students that could deliver great content, but did not have the standard mechanics to get the A or recognition they deserved? If so, how did you handle this?
Below is a site that provides more background on the topic. Please share if you have more…..

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NEED CASH: Unclaimed Property

NEED CASH: Unclaimed Property

If you have recently found yourself looking through pants pockets, coats, and purses for a few extra bucks, try a different method.

Each state has an Unclaimed Property Department in which you may can collect some cash or material items you did not know were waiting on you. I was successful when I contacted the Illinois Cash Dash program via web. The process was extremely simple and lucky me, I claimed $78 in checks I had not received from 2 previous places of employment.

At this time, The Illinois Unclaimed Property Department is auctioning over 15,000 items which have not been claimed within 5 years. If you do not live in Illinois, your state may have a similar auction going. Who knows, you may find some great savings for Christmas shopping!


And please feel free to share information about your sates Unclaimed Property Department.

Below is a link to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Search the site for more information on your states unclaimed property.

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Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Uncategorized




Educate instead of incarcerate. This is my issue, my cause, my new focus for development. God has continued to have me take part in experiences and conversations that let me know more about my purpose in urban planning.
Frequently I become ill at the thought of incarceration. I began to understand the complexity of prison after reading both of Asha Bandele’s book’s regarding the details of falling in love with a man in prison (really good read for males and females). I have had family members in prison and have written letters to a few friends that were locked up but it wasn’t until recently that I have fully grasped the impact of incarceration and what it means to my future. To my sisters future. To my nieces future. To EVERYONE’S future.
I have worked with children for years now. As challenging as they can be, I have always been able to see the beauty in their struggles, creativity, excitement, and passion about things that probably mean nothing to me (but grow to mean something because I will take on any cause that matters to them). I fear that in the near future we will be a society almost void of black and brown men and all of their beauty.
I want to begin to fight for them, prisoners, on the policy end while also taking it to the streets. I know there is not just one way to win this battle, but that the tactics must take place simultaneously. Our youth are imprisoned before they can comprehend. Their parents un-educated to the point that they cannot help them understand consequences, choices, and alternatives; neither are they in circles that promote these abilities. Our youth are given trumped-up charges so that no matter how much they try to plea down, they still receive a felony. These felonies lead to loss privileges. Loss experiences. Loss ties.

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