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What happens when you decide NOT to be the Angry Black Woman?

What happens when you decide NOT to be the Angry Black Woman?

This one is for my sistahs!

If you are working at a 9-5, think about your office dynamic.  When something pops off everyone looks at you to react.  Especially if you are the only brown face in the office.  Let’s see how the “black girl” is going to respond…

I can remember when I was the only black in the office, and I can also remember situations when the brown faces were the majority.  It doesn’t take away from the fact that EVERYONE expects for us to lose our cool when placed in certain situations.

When I know I am on the brink of no return with my attitude I hear my father’s voice very clearly.  As if he’s sitting on my shoulder with wings wearing his work uniform (displaying his name) and glasses.  “Hey, now what did I tell you, never…let…em…see…you…sweat!”

Ah yes dad, you did tell me that.

I was cleaning up my office area over the weekend and came across this folder.

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I read the contents of the folder.

I thought to myself, “WHY DO I STILL HAVE MY TERMINATION LETTER FROM 2015?”

Simple.  I wanted to keep the letter that jump started this amazing journey of being transparent.  I completed a children’s book two weeks after receiving the letter.  No lie…

That letter is the reason my story is published in HuffPost, Business Insider, CNBC to name a few.

When I received this letter I was excited.  It spooked my former boss out.  How could I be so calm when my life seemed to be heading for “Shambles Street?”

Honestly, I was planning my exit strategy to submit a letter by August 31, 2015.  My God said Nope…that’s not MY PLAN.  I’m going to release you in July, and you will receive unemployment.

What would flipping out in that office do for me?  Besides being escorted from the premises in hand cuffs.  I wouldn’t have achieved anything that day by acting ugly.  I knew in the end that I was winning.  I was miserable, and they were doing me a huge favor.

Ladies.  I’m convinced that some things are done intentionally to get a rise out of us.  It’s our choice of how we respond to the nonsense.  I am quite proud of my performance that day.  It taught me so much about myself, and how God uses people/situations to get you to where you are supposed to be.  I’m #SteeleThankful for that entire experience.  I have so much material for a One-Woman show, and who knows I may headline at the same venue that laid me off one day.  Anything is possible.

Never…Let…Em…See…You…Sweat!

That quote from my dad still works.

 

XOXO,

RJ

Termination/Layoff Letter received July 2015 Manicure – Mojito Madness by Essie Adventures of Alleykats: The Missing President by R.J. Williams (Yours Truly) http://bit.ly/TheMissingPresident
BYE 2016! Bumps, Bruises, Heartaches, and Lessons Learned! ;-)

BYE 2016! Bumps, Bruises, Heartaches, and Lessons Learned! ;-)

What have I learned in 2016?

You can’t do it all by yourself.  As much as we think we can, we can’t. We need a team or a tribe to hold us accountable and essentially help with bringing the bigger picture to life. 

I have items on my vision board that didn’t come to fruition this year, and you know what. That’s okay.  

Vision Board 2016 vs Dream Catching in 2017
Vision Board 2016 vs Dream Catching in 2017

Add on to them or change them.  New Goals, New Year!

I took some trips this year that allowed me to connect more with my purpose. I connected with family members that I never knew existed, and reconnected with some people during unlikely circumstances. 

I overexerted myself in some areas, and simply loss the grip on some in my personal and professional life. 

But. Hey. That’s life. 

I started a new career path, in order to give back to my community, and find peace within my current journey.

I learned that you can be unqualified for a powerful position and still secure the job. It takes guts, and you have to be willing to put yourself out there. You will have naysayers, or as the millennials say “haters” but you can’t worry about them. Do what’s best for you. 

I had to get back to me this year. I’m going to focus more on what works best for my sanity. People won’t always understand what you’re doing, but for those that trust you they will support.

2017 will be a huge year of branding for Steele Lens and what falls under the umbrella of the company. 

The first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series was released, and the support has been EVERYTHING.  Looking forward to releasing book 2 in 2017.

Alleykats Club 2016
Alleykats Club 2016

The Final 48 Project continues to prove to me that the documentary and photography campaign is necessary.  Honestly, take a look at your timeline.  A lot of your friends have suffered a significant loss this year.  We need love and support from each other more than ever.

The annual #SteeleThankful Challenge will be bigger and better and that’s thanks to you all. You trusted me, participated, and we all learned so much about ourselves.

I will continue to keep the faith, and believe that God has some amazing things in store in order to make this world a better place. 

Throwing Glitter and Lots of Love going into 2017!

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Xoxo,

RJ

Activate your gift 🎁 Don’t get BURNT OUT! 🔥🔥🔥

Activate your gift 🎁 Don’t get BURNT OUT! 🔥🔥🔥

When you’ve grown up in the Midwest (Michigan, on the lake to be exact) you can identify with the struggle of experiencing all four seasons within 24 hours.  Imagine running errands, preparing for a photoshoot, and snow in April! Sunny, Rain, Snow, and windy all within one day, and no wonder I’m recuperating today.

I have a habit of committing to things, and becoming burnt out.  I’ve done it with social media.  I was too focused on being present on every social media site (new and old) that I became exhausted.  I’m only one person, and Super(wo)man is a fictional character.  I’m not able to always save the day, and I don’t always have the answers.  Even though I try my hardest to solve every problem.

I was quite weak yesterday, but I was determined to complete the photoshoot for the photography campaign.  The project uploads a new story for #GriefTalkTuesday on the Final 48 Project site.  The ministry that God blessed me with is not designed for me to be burned out, but it is designed for me to draw people closer to him while addressing an uncomfortable topic.  When you are able to identify your God given gifts life can become a whole lot easier.

Last Tuesday I completed my gifts assessment at the conclusion of a four week course held at One Church Empowerment Center.  I received confirmation on gifts that I had been denying.  When I read the results, my only response was a chuckle.  One of them I had been hearing since I was a little girl.  One conclusion is for certain, when working in any gift, you must have FAITH.

That’s right, faith.  I’m sure people thought I was crazy when I was laid off from my last job, and I said well now I can work full time in my ministries.  “Well, where is the money gonna come from?”  When you totally commit to the will of God, the finances will come.  Where is the mustard seed?  You know faith the size of a mustard seed.  That kind of faith had me moving to a new state with $100 and no job, and that same faith has kept sane through this whole process of trusting God in this journey.  It’s been hard, but I have faith!

I’m sure there were plenty of times Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to throw in the towel.  Whenever you want to examine a test of faith read an autobiography or biography of a great leader.  Start with Jesus and work your way to the present!

The reason I used Dr. King today because today marks 48 years since he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

4/4/11968, 48 years later.
4/4/11968, 48 years later.
Fighting for change in your life, and the lives of others is no small feat.  There are things that you must sacrifice to get there.  Reducing pride, and getting rid of old habits to usher in the new and improved ones.  I’m going to take a lesson from Dr. King today.  When you receive the calling that God has put on your life, keep fighting, don’t give up, and surround yourself with Kingdom people.

 

Xoxo,

R.J.

The Negros Can Now Vote in Virginia: The Power and Freedom of Voting

The Negros Can Now Vote in Virginia: The Power and Freedom of Voting

I am still attempting to wrap my mind around the #SuperTuesday results that’s occurred in 2016.  The country is divided, and I’m baffled that people are not exercising their right to vote.

I know it’s a choice for you to vote. I guess because I know my history I look at my right to vote as a privilege to do so.  The right to vote was not always accessible to my community, and the road was quite tumultuous getting there.  So, I’m sorry when you tell me that you decided not to vote I’m quickly throwing you the infamous **side eye.**

I’ve probably told you the story before about my grandfather, and how important it was that everyone connected to him exercised their voting rights.

I can remember being a little girl and my grandfather providing each grandchild that turned 18 with the paperwork so they could register to vote. My grandfather was very active in politics and a strong advocate for equal rights.

I would like to dedicate this post to those that strongly believe in exercising that right, and respect the legacy of those individuals that died for our right to vote.

Below you will find photos of the 7 page document of “Colored Negro Men” of Midlothian, Virginia and their Voter Registration Signatures in 1870.

Even though decades later there would be many obstacles to overcome in order for all of us to vote in this country.  I wanted to provide a snapshot of how it began for the Negro Men in Virginia shortly after emancipation.

Please be advised that the voting rights were for men of color, not women.  Women’s right to vote was not until 1920.  That’s right, fifty years after these signed documents were submitted in 1870.

That’s another lesson, for another day!

Negro Voter 1870 Negro Voter VA 1870

How important is a Life Insurance policy? Should I get one?

How important is a Life Insurance policy? Should I get one?

NOW!  If you don’t have an insurance policy you should start shopping around for a policy today.  Trust me.  It’s worth it.  Take a look at Go Fund Me.  You will understand the need to have your own insurance policy.

Many slave masters knew the value of having a policy on their slaves (or property).  They wanted to protect their investment.

I really did not realize the importance of having Life Insurance until three years ago.  I couldn’t imagine the burden my family would have to bear of putting together arrangements for me, and I had the option of adding Life Insurance to my Car and Rental Insurance.  I re-evaluated my priorities, and realized not investing in Life Insurance would be the  “Wrong Answer!”  **Dad’s Voice**

It’s similar to having car or renter’s insurance.  We must protect what’s precious to us and on top of that driving without car insurance is against the law.  Hmm.  Car insurance is more important than life insurance.  Think about that.  It’s a choice.  Will you be reckless or not?

Below you will find a Slave Policy from April of 1858, a policy for a slave named George in the amount of $1,000.

Slave Insurance Policy blogger-image--762415460

 

I know you’re probably thinking, “Gosh, R.J. talks about insurance a lot.  Maybe she works for an insurance company.”  Well, I used to work for a large health insurance company, and I was able to witness what happens when you don’t have insurance.  You can go bankrupt without insurance, and fall into a deep depression trying to work yourself out of the hole.  I don’t want that to happen to anyone that’s attached me.

On this Friday, I just want you to remember one thing.  Invest in yourself today.  We must protect all of our serious investments, those with and without a heartbeat!

 

The Blueprint: The importance of HERstory. Stay Lit and March 4th!

The Blueprint: The importance of HERstory. Stay Lit and March 4th!

I love when this day comes around every year. Say it aloud, “March Forth.” Move forward. How does that statement resonate with you? For me, it motivates me to keep pushing to the next level of my dreams.

We are almost ninety (Yes 90) days into the new year and how are we doing with our goals for 2016? I’ve been reflecting on the goals I have on my vision board, and I’ve made progress. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of work to do.

We went from Black History Month to Women’s History Month. Can we agree that last month was jam packed with greatness?! I know that this month will be no different. I mean Hello, March is the month for movement. It’s instructing us that everything we’ve worked for is requiring us to act on it.

March…March…March

This week I reflected on my interaction with Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson. She was the matriarch and activist behind the Civil Rights Movement and marches in Selma, Alabama.  When she was on tour last year (at 103 years old) I was given the opportunity to edit a video for her to be placed in her personal archives.

I thought about the strength of Ms. Amelia. She was in her fifties when she was apart of  the fight for equality in Alabama. When I listened to her speak in an intimate venue last year she repeated the one thing that continued to keep her going.

Faith.

Faith without works is dead, right?  It all starts with faith. The faith that this thing is gonna happen. If it aligns with God’s will, it’s gotta work!

She was brutally attacked on March 7, 1965 (Bloody Sunday), in Selma during a march for voting rights in Alabama.  After the attack I’m sure that would have stopped the average person.  Ms. Amelia was far from average.  She was determined to keep the faith until things changed.

Have you seen the movie Selma, directed by Ava Duvernay?  Ms. Amelia is played by Lorraine Toussaint in the movie.  If you haven’t checked it out please do so this weekend.  Thank me later.  😉

On this day what will you do different to make a change in your life?  I’m holding myself accountable and taking notes from the blueprint that Ms. Amelia has left behind.

 

The Little Black Book…Are we “Steele” family?

The Little Black Book…Are we “Steele” family?

Don’t get too freaked out, this post is rated PG – Past Generations. I know millennials aren’t carrying around books anymore let alone a little black book. Our little black book can be found on our clouds account or stored under nicknames in our phone, but those baby boomers that’s a different story.

Well, my parents are baby boomers so I’m still prone to writing everything down, except  for phone numbers and addresses. After losing many of my contacts in October because I didn’t save my contacts to the cloud I realized how important a little black book would be.

I’ve told you before (and on Periscope) that I’m in search of my paternal grandmother’s family. I honestly want to know where my “Steele” family resides, and learn more about my family history.

I’ve finally made it through the bulk of my dad’s papers, and I came across an address book. A little black book that had addresses stamped on the front. I was flippin through the pages and some of the handwriting resembled my granny’s but most was that of my father’s unique penmanship.

A light bulb 💡 illuminated in my head. It said, “Check under the S alphabet!” Only one person listed in the S section of the book. THE LAST NAME WAS “STEELE!”

Overcome with excitement I ran to my computer and did a Google search of the name and address of this person. I found a few descendants, and decided to go to Facebook. Same name and location in Birmingham, Alabama, but I froze. Would a random inbox or friend request from a stranger scare this person? I definitely couldn’t lead the message with “What up cuz? Is that you?” Lol.

I took a couple of days to figure out what I was going to say.  I finally sent the message along with a picture of the address so they would know that I wasn’t crazy!

I’m anxiously awaiting the response.  I decided to document this journey similar to my other missions. I’m going to hop on Periscope as soon as I receive a response, and of course keep you updated on the site.

I’m excited to share this journey with you and also inspire you to reconnect (or meet) with your family. I believe this little black book is the beginning of solving the missing links in my family history.

Until next time,

R.J. 🕵

#FaveArchivist

Archives 101: Miles is Maintenance – What my father taught me!

Archives 101: Miles is Maintenance – What my father taught me!

Yesterday I hopped on Periscope for #GriefTalkTuesday and talked about what happened on Christmas Day.

It was great to get on there to talk about my frustrations and laugh with new/old scope buddies! We had fun! You can view the original video on Periscope (@SteeleLens) or view the video (without the hearts and commentary 😔) below.


P.S. One of my fave scopers hopped on the scope to talk about my book. Way Cool!

Archives 101: Rebellious Nerd 2.0

Archives 101: Rebellious Nerd 2.0

I’m continuing to unpack my grief,  and dedicated to sharing my findings on Periscope and my other social media outlets.

My first post on this site is the story of my emotional rollercoaster with education.  If you want to read the original post, click here.

Within the post I talked about my frustration and bitterness when it came to the decisions that were made after high school.  Briefly, I mentioned a story about my dad writing a check for what happened to be my final semester at that college.  Well, I stated before that I’ve been going through my dad’s papers for the past couple of weeks.  Even though he was quite organized, his papers would always produce a surprise.

I was looking through old bills and bank statements, just in case there was another family photo accidentally wrapped in the papers.  I didn’t find any pictures in the thick stack of bank statements, I found something else; a check.

Years ago, banks would return the check to the source after the check was cleared.  I honestly don’t remember this because I didn’t write many checks, but my sister remembered this practice.

I picked up the check, and glanced at the writing for at least 10 seconds.  Every space of that check was occupied, and immediately sent me back to the place where the check was written.  The check was written at the Accounting Clerk’s window, and I was standing on the left side of my dad.  The three sheets of paper that accompanied the check was my class schedule and bill for that semester (featured photo from Periscope). The same semester, I decided months later that I was NEVER returning to that school as a student.  The check represented a shift in my relationship with my dad, and my education.

Clearly my dad believed in me.  My dad believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.  Sadly, I still didn’t care that semester.  I was so unhappy, and I took his help for granted.  It happens in life sometimes, others around you are rooting for you before you begin to cheer for yourself.  I had to realize he did that to secure a better life for me, not for him.  The next semester I decided to go to a new school, and I didn’t ask him for the help to pay the bill.  I wanted to prove to myself and him that I could do it.  My goal was to move beyond the guilt and disappointment.  I’m not here to apologize for my past, life happens and hopefully we learn a thing or two from it.

You have to want better for yourself.  That’s exactly what I had to tell myself.  The only way to move out of your current situation is to work harder.  Finding the check reminds me that I need to work harder to get to the next level.  I would have never rediscovered my passion if it wasn’t for him writing this check.  Keep Pushing!

 

The Chains of Willie Lynch

The Chains of Willie Lynch

Last night I was on the couch, and I was reading/watching various news stories that were in my social media newsfeed.  I was thinking here we are celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the abolishment of slavery, and we are still concerned with RACE.  How far have we come and how did we get here?

Okay so slavery “ended” in 1865 with the 13th Amendment right, or was it the Emancipation Proclamation?  I need you to know the difference between the two.  If you have questions I can help you out with that. Blacks were in search of opportunities to provide for their families, and acquire land.  We wanted our “forty acres and a mule.” Some of our ancestors decided to stay in the south, and others decided to move north (The Great Migration) like my family.

Slavery is abolished, so blacks are free from physical bondage (somewhat), but now they are experiencing mental bondage?  Let’s insert Jim Crow and Willie Lynch.  I call them Mind Games Masters, because they are fictional characters that we have somehow made REAL!  By the way lynching does not derive from “Master Willie Lynch,” and if you don’t know about the Jim Crow Museum you must visit!

Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan
Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan

Fast forward to Brown vs The Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement, people marched, were hosed down, participated in sit-ins, and murdered for equal rights.  It’s 2015, and brown skin ain’t in! How in the world did we get here?

When I was pulled over by the police in October I immediately pulled the “race card.”  I sure did.  There was no reason to pull me over.   I was legit, and I wasn’t speeding.  I finally knew what it felt like to be driving while black.  That one tear that I shed while driving away reminded me that the incident could have possibly went terribly wrong.   The only thing that kept me calm was hearing my dad’s voice in my head, “never let em see you SWEAT.”

Chains keep you from trying, leaves you repeating the cycle of fear, and depression.  I look at the chains in the featured photo and can’t help but to think about who died in them, because they were never broken.   Are you allowing what’s going on around you to keep you in mental bondage?  Again I ask how did we get here?  If I ask that question, I need to ask myself the same question.  How did I get here?  What am I doing to free the future generation from mental bondage?  I have to evaluate the chains in my life that are not broken.  I think we all need a history lesson to realize the power of these chains.  The chains are not always in the physical, they are truly apart of our mental.  The future must know how we got here, and work tirelessly to assure that we don’t stay here.  Look around, we have a lot of work to do.  I Steele Believe!