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How Dare You Come For Michelle Obama?

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine (that was picked up by EBONY magazine) in response to an offensive cartoon of FLOTUS Michelle Obama. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the links: How Dare You Come For Michelle Obama? by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine and How Dare You Come for First Lady Michelle Obama! by M. Michelle Derosier for EBONY magazine.

michelle obama-610x250

Full disclosure in the spirit of transparency: I STAN as hard for Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama as the Beyhive works to keep Queen Bey (aka Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter) in honey.

As a nose-in-the-book Black girl who grew up in Flatbush when Brooklyn was still too hood for gentrification, I am here, present, and on time for her rise from the South Side of Chicago to become an Ivy League lawyer, and now First Lady of the United States. As a tall girl whose height was a source of constant ridicule, I am also here, present, and on time for the regal and dignified way she carries her 5’11 frame.

While I fully admit that she’s BBF M’Obama in my head, you don’t have to be a fan – or even like her – to find Ben Garrison’s cartoon, comparing a “masculine” Mrs. Obama to Melania Trump in incredibly poor taste and disrespectful.

offensive flotus cartoon

Other than a pathetic attempt to gain publicity, what’s the motivation behind it? What message is it trying to send?

Are we supposed to be disheartened that yet another Black woman is found lacking when measured against white beauty standards? Been there. Done that. And you don’t have that power over us anymore. We’ve been growing the list of Black beauties and #CarefreeBlackGirls who reflect who we really are. In addition to the Michelles and the Oprahs, we’re adding the Violas, the Lupitas, the Tracees, and the Yaras, too.

Is this yet another reminder that to be Black means to achieve twice as much and receive half the credit? Don’t worry. That lesson is branded in our DNA. There’s no forgetting it.

As FLOTUS, Mrs. Obama has spearheaded four successful nationwide and global initiatives: a campaign to address childhood obesity; a call to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families are properly supported; an effort to inspire young people to dream beyond high school; and a movement to educate and empower young women.

Additionally, as a fashion icon, Mrs. Obama has done what Kim Kardashian only wishes she could – directly impact the stock price of the commercial fashion industry. According to David Yermack, a professor of finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business, “For just a generic company at a routine event, it was worth about $38 million to have Mrs. Obama wear your clothes.”

Someone please call POTUS to drop the doggone mic.

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Sadly, in the face of all this Black Girl Magic, we still find an America who would prefer as FLOTUS a woman who posed naked on a white fur rug inside a private jet for British GQ, instead of an Ivy League trained lawyer.

Am I surprised? Not at all.

Honestly, I’m not even mad at Melania. It would be too easy to go down the road of mud flinging and pitting the two women against each other, but that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Our problem runs so much deeper, and so far beyond America.

Black female beauty in this world has often been ridiculed, oversexualized, or both. This fact comes into particular focus when I think of Sarah Baartman, an African woman who was tricked into leaving the continent to move to Europe, only to be paraded around “freak shows” to exhibit her ample bottom. Like Mrs. Obama, White cartoonists also ridiculed her figure in the name of satire.

Ironically, according to the 2015 report from the American society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), on average, a butt related procedure (implant or lift) was performed every 30 minute in 2015. And I’m sure we can guess who’s shelling out for that.

Instead of getting angry at this cartoon, I choose to celebrate the woman that’s being ridiculed. The woman who has spent eight years in the White House tirelessly serving and advocating for many of the same citizens who hold her in such contempt.

Like Beyoncé, Michelle Obama chooses to rise above her haters. She wins.

 

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These Pastors Ain’t Loyal?

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine in response to the Rev. Jamal Bryant who once again finds himself embroiled in marital scandal. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the link: These Pastors Ain’t Loyal? by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine.

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I have an inherent distrust of televangelists and pastors of mega churches.

And it’s not just because they’re stereotyped as snake charmers drawing in millions of followers with the false promise of health and wealth while seducing them out of their life savings. What I find most disconcerting is that oftentimes–and not every time, and not all of them–they’re peddling a gospel that is contradictory to the revealed Word of God. Contradictions that can be so subtle it’s hard to tell the difference until or unless you do as 1 John 4:1 says, “…Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Understanding that I have a tendency to see televangelists as false prophets, I prayed for the ability to step back and approach the story about pastor Jamal Bryant, who faces allegations of fathering a 10-month-old son out-of-wedlock, with unbiased eyes. The Rev. Bryant, leader of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple Church, hasn’t confirmed or denied the allegations, or the paternity test presented by alleged baby-mother Latoya Shawntee Odom suggesting that he is 99.9999 percent the father of her child.

While going down a rabbit hole of research about his ministry, I struggled to find a man who genuinely repented when he “fell short of the glory of God” the first time around: eight years ago when he had an extramarital affair that caused his divorce and brought to light the discrepancy between preaching and living.

Instead, I found a man whose woe-is-me attitude is as evident today as it was when he described, in this Roland Martin interview, his 29-year-old self who had the first affair: “I was quickly becoming a household name. So, nothing in my mind ever said, number one, I would ever get caught; number two, that my wife would ever leave; number three, that my church would tank out.”

After listening to clips of him speak and of his sermons–one of which quotes the lyric “These h-es ain’t loyal,” from the great Old Testament R&B singer Chris “Eat the Cake, Rihanna” Brown–I am saddened that everything screams “my ministry.” Where I was looking for God as the focus, all I saw was Him as a prop to shine the light on Bryant and his destiny. Although Bryant claimed years ago to have “grown a lot”, all I can see is the same sin and same arrogance. Nothing learned.

While he might not have learned anything, I pray his congregation will. As I’ve often asked God, please deliver me from ever setting You aside to follow a religion or a preacher.

 

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American, American Dream, Author, Blue collar, Brooklyn, Career, Education, Family, Family Values, Flatbush, Haiti, Haitian, Higher education, Inspiration, Inspire, It takes a village, Labor, Menial work, mentor, NYC, role model, Sacrifice, Self confidence, The Godfather

A Grandfather’s Sacrifice.

Speaking of mentoring, here’s a note I wrote a few years ago on Thank Your Mentor Day in honor of my grandpa – the original mentor in my life. The man I lovingly refer to as #TheHaitianGodfather. 🙂

Who mentored you? Please share your story.

I am a true representation of the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” I was that child and my village consisted of my family, my church, my teachers, and a sprinkling of strangers throughout the years. These individuals were instrumental in providing a foundation for the development of my values and beliefs.

The most important person in said village was (and probably still is) my grandfather – the man who nurtured and mentored me throughout most of my life. My grandfather is a man who “could have been somebody” in the materialistic sense of the statement. He is perceptive, clever with numbers, and annoyingly adept at learning new languages.

However, my grandfather spent most of his adult life working menial jobs and catering to those who are “somebody.” He did so not because he lacked focus or determination, but because he chose to surrender his success for that of his family.

Instead of going to school when he arrived in the U.S. from Haiti in the 70s, he spent decades working to afford to bring his children and extended family members to America for a better life. His desire for higher education was never fulfilled, but his labor paid for countless degrees and full access to the American Dream.

As I watch the state of Haiti today I am especially thankful for my grandfather’s sacrifice and overall guidance.


grandpa raise hand

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Could You Be a Mentor?

My team and I are up to our eyeballs in work preparing for the launch of the new program year. It is an exciting time as we ready to introduce a new visually attractive and functionally enhanced version of our platform, more in-depth trainings and overall higher quality service – something we strive for daily.

But it is a very stressful time – I sit here at almost 1:00 in the morning feeling guilty that I’m not working.

Instead, I’ve spent the better part of this evening reflecting on the power of mentoring. After a lovely conversation earlier with a potential volunteer to our program, I was reminded once again why there’s so much value in the work that we do.

Our small team with a large footprint works to match caring professionals across the country with junior and high school students who are in need of mentors. In need of someone to connect with them personally, someone to cheer them on, and someone to guide them to understand the link between life in school today and life in the real world tomorrow.

I’ve been more than blessed to have had that growing up. Some kids never will. And that’s simply unacceptable.

That’s why I invite you (if you happen upon this post) to join us at iCouldBe to learn more about how your one hour a week can potentially change the course of a student’s life.

And you can do it from the convenience of your home or office. All you need is an internet-enabled computer.

Take a read through this mentor recruitment post. Who knows? It might be just what you were looking for to leave your mark on this world.


mentor

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Accepting Feedback

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

I always experience this feeling of incredible vulnerability when giving others access to critique my work. The feeling is akin to handing someone the key to what belittles my value, makes me cry and makes me second-guess my talent. But it’s part of the process of becoming a published author, so I respect its purpose.

Helpful article about accepting feedback.


submitting work

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, Ms. Maya Angelou.

I hope you somehow knew the value of your words to a shy teen with her nose always buried in a book. Thank you for encouraging me to speak my voice through pen and paper. You will be missed.


untold story

 

By Maya Angelou 

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
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