It's amazing what the Most High prepares us for, sometimes without us even understanding why. At the top of the year, when some of the people in my world asked me what I would be focusing on in 2020, I said, "I feel the need to praise and support Black men more. That will be my mission." All this year, I've been intentional about complimenting Black men, both young and not-so-young. I've found ways to use my gifts to help them when and wherever I can. I purchased a shirt (that you can get here) that simply says, "Black Men Are Not Your Enemy" (they have one that says the same about Black women too, by the way).
And perhaps, that's why, the moment that I saw the video—the video that will be forever embedded in my brain that I will not be sharing here because I want to be sensitive to those who are triggered by such graphic visuals—I was immediately shook to the point of tears (Darnella Frazier, thank you for your courage in capturing the footage; we know things would be looking very different right now if you hadn't. We're holding you up, sis). Did I really just watch a man, yes, a Black man, die—no, be murdered—on a live video? By a cop? A cop who has a history of using "excessive force" with other civilians (and used to work with George at the same club months before. SMDH)? While three other cops watched? In front of over a dozen bystanders who pleaded with him to get off of George Floyd's neck? As George pleaded the same?
Even now, as I'm writing this, I'm having to take deep breaths because reliving what my brother—our brother—went through is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and so hard to process, let alone digest. The pic that leads this story? It's selected by design to remind us that he lived the same regular day-to-day life that we all do. As someone who's lost a fiancée, I feel for his. Every time I read about how much of a "gentle giant" he was, I find myself getting triggered all over again. And what did he lose his life over? A freakin' counterfeit twenty dollar bill. One that Mahmod Abumayaleh—the owner of the store where George was last seen alive—said was very possibly one that George didn't even know was fake. One that, either way, shouldn't have resulted in the loss of his life. Have mercy, there are no words. Yet, I will try and find some. So that I can let those who knew and loved him know, in my own small way, that his living—and dying—will not be in vain by sharing these five points and suggestions.
Someone Just Died. Senselessly So. It's OK to Feel…However You Do.
I apologize to everyone expecting to see me on Good Morning America today, but after the events in Minnesota with G… https://t.co/U0TC3uR2g0— Ice Cube (@Ice Cube) 1590669474.0
There is no handbook for shock—or grief. That's why, there is no reason why any of us should feel apologetic about however we feel about George's death. Or how he died. With articles running like, "Prosecutor says he won't 'rush' to charge cops involved in George Floyd death", I totally get why there are Twitter posts like:
Wypipo have been brutalizing, dehumanizing, oppressing, raping, lynching, and murdering Black people in America for… https://t.co/lGJc8T462i— Bishop Talbert Swan (@Bishop Talbert Swan) 1590666990.0
It's also why I appreciate others like:
Oh, Tomi... When people feel they aren’t being heard, they get louder until you can no longer ignore them. Theyre… https://t.co/rLOejdPGZu— Meredith Lee (@Meredith Lee) 1590688695.0
And, while there are actual Black women (what in the world, Candace?! There are more than just white Karens in the world…clearly) who are posting thought-less videos about how Black people are acting like "trained chimpanzees" in response to their pain, I totally understand why actors like John Boyega are standing firm in saying things like this:
“I hate racists—with a passion.” I love seeing @JohnBoyega not only speak truth to power, but do so in such uncompr… https://t.co/fIUBVQcRo4— Jamil Smith (@Jamil Smith) 1590625500.0
Y'all, we have every right to be angry. So, for all of the folks who are using the ever-so-popular, gloss-over-the-problem phrases like, "don't hate, love", please remember that even God Himself got angry, at times. The Bible says, "Be angry and do not sin" (Psalm 4:4, Ephesians 4:26-27). The Bible also says, "SEEK JUSTICE" and "REBUKE THE OPPRESSOR" (yes, I am yelling those phrases—Isaiah 1:17).
By the way, while we're here, one definition of hate is "unwilling". It is not "unloving" to be unwilling to put up with injustice. Please let's stop it with any narrative that presumes otherwise.
Yet what gave me the extra internal push to pen this piece was when I saw videos like the one from this absolutely beautiful young Black man, Keedron Bryant, singing about being "a young Black man, doing all that I can":
And a video that was posted by the Emmy-nominated actor Asante Blackk (who played the younger Kevin Richardson inWhen They See Us), as he shared how his parents' anniversary had a bit of a dim light on it due to how "traumatizing it is, growing up as a young Black man in this country":
Both of these are a very vivid reminder that, every time a life is taken, senselessly so, it has a domino effect. And, just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes that same village to acknowledge, to mourn, to comfort, to speak up, to defend, to rally—to do what needs to be done to bring about real and lasting change. To do so, yes, as Malcolm X once said, "By any means necessary."
I won't pretend to act like I have even an inkling of all the answers. But as so many of us are sitting in our homes, staring at our computer monitors (or smartphone screens), still in utter disbelief of what this week has brought about, I did want to share a few gentle nudges about what we all can do to keep from being stagnant in our shock, fear, confusion—or all three.
5 Ways to Get Through This Time of Injustice
1. Speak Out
God gave us all gifts and platforms. One of mine is the gift of writing. That's a part of the reason why I thought it would be a slap in the face of my Creator to not use it to say something about this horrific loss. My godchildren's mother wrote a song entitled "We Are Seeds" with a visual that addresses police brutality (and ICE). Maybe you've got a T-shirt line. Maybe you have a podcast or YouTube channel. Even if it's just your social media account, it's not enough to just talk amongst your family members, friends and co-workers.
Author Germany Kent once said, "To say nothing is saying something. You must denounce things you are against or one might believe that you support things you really do not."
Your gifts and platform aren't just for yourself or your own personal gain. You are more powerful than you know. Find a way to speak out about what has transpired—what has been transpiring among our people. Not later. As soon as you possibly can. You never know who you'll motivate and inspire to do the same.
2. Be a “Professional Student” When It Comes to Social Injustice
Something that a friend of mine and I were talking about this week is how there needs to be more leaders when it comes to social injustice and that we ALL need to be willing to become constant students of the issues that affect our community as well. I don't know about y'all, but when I was growing up, I was made to watch the Eyes on the Prize series and march on MLK Day. Ignorance about social justice and injustice was not an option. I didn't have access to the world wide web until college, but now, all sorts of information are at our constant disposal. You can immediately read articles like "Number of people shot to death by the police in the United States from 2017 to 2020, by race", "Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex" and "Addressing Police Misconduct Laws Enforced by the Department of Justice", "Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Manual" and "Having 'The Talk': Expert Guidance On Preparing Kids For Police Interactions".
Speak with any lawyers you might know. Read about the laws in your own state. If you personally know a cop, get their insights and perspectives. Soak up as much information as you can. Then pass what you know down to your children. Knowledge will never stop being powerful. Let it fuel you.
3. Encourage Non-Blacks to Be ANTI-RACIST
You don't need me to tell you what it's like to be Black in America or what the headlines have been saying, especially as of late (RIP to you as well, Sir Ahmaud Arbery). As someone who went to a racist "Christian" high school, please believe that this has brought back all kinds of feelings of what it's like to be around people who aren't Black who think they aren't racist when…they actually very much so are. It can be very tempting to want to see all people who don't look like us as an enemy. Yet I must say that I have seen many people who aren't my ethnicity show up and show out during this time. No, it's not because they don't see color (maybe one day, I'll get into how that phrase makes me cringe); it's because they know that all hues deserve honor, respect and dignity. It's because they aren't just "not racist"; they are, as biologist Corina Newsome so powerfully, eloquently and concisely stated in a tweet a few days ago, anti-racist. They don't just think it's OK to not pre (or mis) judge someone based on their ethnicity, they encourage those around them to not be that way too.
There are articles like "Black People Need Stronger White Allies — Here's How You Can Be One", "'Unarmed Black Man' Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means" and "If You're a White Woman and You're Uncomfortable Right Now, That's a Good Thing" out in cyberspace that are sounding the alarm that racism is a human issue, not just a "non-white problem". Listen, I know that some people are intentionally ridiculous, I won't fight you on that. But others need to be educated. They need to hear our thoughts, our perspective—our history (because Lord knows that schools aren't boiling over with Black history and education). Share it.
4. Treat EACH ONE Like They’re the First One
There was absolutely no way that I was going to write without asking us all to take a moment of silence out for Ms. Breonna Taylor. A certified EMT who was killed as officers were in the midst of issuing a no-knock search warrant in a narcotics investigation. After firing 20 shots, with eight hitting Breonna, the officers "realized" they were looking for someone who was already apprehended. This happened on March 13. A lot of us didn't know about it until well into April and even May.
There has been a lot of anger surrounding the fact that, not only did it take so long for her story to become national—and even international—news, but it seems like her name is not being spoken as loudly as George and Ahmad's. I just want to take a moment to say that as a Black woman, her loss literally hits differently. She matters in a very unique and significant way. We will seek her justice, just as much, as well. Because we should never get so used to this kind of recklessness and brutality that everyone just…runs in together. Breonna, you also did not die in vain. We honor you and your legacy. We will not rest until justice is sought out on your behalf too. Rest in peace and power, sis. And Kenneth Walker—Breonna's boyfriend who fought to protect his and Breonna's life and then was unjustly arrested because of it—we appreciate you standing up for the woman you loved. That is manhood infinity. We see you. You are in our prayers.
5. Be Unapologetic About Being Revolutionary
Marc Lamont Hill recently shared his thoughts about George Floyd and the protests surrounding his death on Facebook. His message was entitled, "These Are Not Riots". I won't lie, as I was listening to some of what he said, Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" started to get louder and louder in my head.
As I watched the video, I thought to myself, "George is not a victim so much as he's a martyr." What I mean by that is a martyr is someone who endures great suffering, sometimes to the point of death, oftentimes for a greater cause than they would ever know. What happened this past Memorial Day has clearly lit a fire in so many of us that revolutions— a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure—are needed sometimes. This, fam, is one of those times.
Regardless of what your personal thoughts and feelings of Cuban revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara may be, one thing that he said is spot-on: "If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine." Just like each church-goer has their own way of praising the Lord, each of us have our own way of seeking justice on behalf of George Floyd and oh so many others. Let's be smart. Let's be safe. But yes, let's be radical too. Because as someone once said, "Nothing changes…if nothing changes."
George, as you cried out for your mother who passed last year in the very last moments of life, I truly believe that angels came to comfort you. I don't know one person, personally, who is not grieving along with your family that remains. Although it's not enough to say, we are so very sorry. Yet please know that this is not a passing news story for the Black community. This has raised a righteous anger and awareness in us that will not leave us any time soon. A change is gonna come. A revolution is in motion. You did not die in vain. From the depths of my heart, I can promise you that. Rest now. We've got you—and Ahmad, Breonna, Tamir, Alton, Sean, Atatiana, Philando, Korryn, Mike, Trayvon and…
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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It appears that LeToya Luckett is off the market. The songstress, who got divorced from Tommicus Walker in 2021, surprised her Instagram followers when she uploaded a Reel of how she spent Valentine’s Day. The video was a collage of roses, rose petals in the shape of a heart, dinner, and LeToya walking down a hallway with a man walking behind her. While she didn’t give any further details about who was in the video, she did stop by the Tamron Hall Show and shared that she was in a great place.
“I will say that I am daily, I am spoiled with kindness. I am spoiled with peace. I am spoiled with support. I am spoiled with consistency, love,” she said. “And I have to give it to myself first. But the fact that God saw fit to put it in a form of a man, I won’t complain.”
While we don’t know much else about her new bae, it seems that he is making the mother of two very happy. LeToya went on to share how her new relationship has put her in a blissful state and she finally feels stability.
“You know what, I'm very happy. I have so much peace, y'all. I have so much peace. I'm happy,” she gushed. “And I’ve never really been in this space before because I felt like even since a kid, I've been moving around, trying to figure it out. And then, you know, getting married, having kids, going through a divorce, and moving– it was a lot. You know, and I feel like I'm finally in a place where I'm stable. I'm stable, and I feel good.”
But that’s not all she talked about. The “Torn” singer and Tamron also talked about the importance of having self-esteem and self-worth. LeToya’s Instagram page is filled with stylish photos of the singer, family photos, and positivity. She also has had many exciting career ventures, such as starring in the upcoming BET+ thriller One Night Stay, and most recently hosting TV One’s Urban Honors.
However, when it comes to how she lives her life, she remembers the things her mom taught her, such as turning lemons into lemonade.
“So, you know the world is going to deal you the cards, right? But you have to figure out how you're gonna play them. And it starts with you. It starts with you,” she said.
“I am so glad that I watched my mom do that. And she was the example of that because it taught me that regardless of what happens, what type of lemons life deals you, you've got to turn it into lemonade. You got to make sure your side of the street is clean. Regardless of what everybody else is doing or saying. You got to make sure that you're together, that you believe in yourself. You can't go expecting people to love you, people to respect you, and treat you a certain way. If you don't respect yourself.”
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