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“Are you mixed? You sound white.” Owning who YOU are.

“Are you mixed? You sound white.” Owning who YOU are.

So, what’s up with the title RJ?  Where am I going with this?

Over the weekend I was reminded that the culture of “colorism” still exist.

Colorism: prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

I was cruising around social media, and noticed a few things that were disturbing.  It’s 2016 and in an age of #blackgirlmagic we are still making comments about light skin vs. dark skin.  Then I noticed that it’s the parents that are teaching their children this stuff.  Information that the parents received as children is being transferred to their children.

At the end of the day the race box on any application does not say, “Are you a caramel, red bone, yellow, chocolate, or cocoa black person?”

I can remember being a little girl in the neighborhood, and I found nothing wrong with the way I spoke.  I noticed a difference in viewpoints once family members, or friends of the neighborhood kids would come around.  “Are you white?” As a six year old child I would look at others as if they were talking to someone else, because I was the same hue as the person asking the question.  “Is yo mama white? You sound white.”

Where did this thinking come from?

So, not only are we fighting with the struggles of colorism, but we are also struggling with the way a person speaks?   We can’t win.

After my injury that left me severely burned, my way of thinking changed drastically.  I was surrounded by individuals who were diverse, but apart of the same society.  An event that changed the course of our lives forever.  I encountered people that had to learn to love the new person that they were, including myself.  It was no longer about skin color, or speech.  It was about coping with a new way of life.  It’s definitely not easy.

#burnsurvivor #EssiePolish “Fear or desire”

At the end of the day it’s about a person’s inner beauty, and not outer.  Right?!

How can things change?  Well, it begins with you!  Is this way of thinking valid, or right?  We must be mindful of what we are teaching the future generation.  Within the blink of an eye a life altering event can happen, and then the color of your skin, or the way that a person speaks isn’t really that important anymore.



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!

Historical Tour Series – Greensboro, NC

Historical Tour Series – Greensboro, NC

I’m R.J. and I love History.  I just wanted to get that out of the way.  So, you aren’t confused at all. Lol. There are many things that I enjoy but I honestly love history more! On Periscope, I present live broadcasts of myself (and sometimes I’m able to drag a friend along) touring the country doing tours at varies historic sites and I call them “Historical Tours w/R.J.”  I like to challenge people with the question of, “What’s in your archives?”  Your personal archives expresses so much about you and helps you focus on your legacy in a more succinct way.  Today is #TBT (Throwback Thursday) right?  Well, I decided to reach into my archives and pull out a photo from my days as an Americorp member, (amazing experience I might add).

The historical tour took place at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina.  The center and museum is housed inside of the former Woolworth & Co store.  College students from a local Historically Black College and University (HBCU) decided on February 1, 1960 to take a stand against segregation at the “whites only” lunch counter.  Their efforts at the “Greensboro sit-ins” would go on to change the course of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

To learn more about this amazing place, please check out their website,

I highly recommend this place as your first stop if you’re ever passing through on I-85 in North Carolina or visiting for the weekend.  Don’t forget to tell them that R.J. sent you!


The girl behind the lens…