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CONTENTS IMAGE 5
HELP! I’M STUCK! By Dr. Sandra Steen
SOARING WITH HEART By Shewanda Riley
18 COVER FEATURE
10 EDUCATOR SPOTLIGHT Dr. Adena Loston 12 AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT Angie Ransome-Jones 14 ENTREPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT Toni Campbell 17 EMPOWERING YOUTH Bill Dukes talks to Michelle London-Bell 35 PROTECT YOUR HOME Le Juene Montgomery 39 REFLECTIONS OF AN ENTREPRENEUR T. Max McMillan 40 PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE Dr. Trevor Alexander 4 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
OF SAN ANTONIO’S MOST IMPACTFUL WOMEN KATHERINE SHIELDS McDonald’s Franchise Owner PRISCILLA HILL-ARDOIN Retired AT&T Executive and Founder of the Aaron Ardoin Foundation PAULA GOLD-WILLIAMS President and CEO of CPS Energy AARONETTA PIERCE Civic Leader and Advocate for African American Art and Culture JACKIE GORMAN Executive Director of San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE)
“It is a must that we expose our daughters, sisters, nieces, and the girls that we mentor to positive images of influential women of color...”
s a business owner, I am always encouraged by the accomplishments of African American women who are managing their families, successful in their professional lives, and shining examples of intelligence, beauty, determination, and strength. It is a must that we expose our daughters, sisters, nieces, and the girls that we mentor to positive images of influential women of color who offer their gifts, talents, and financial resources to make the world a better place. In this second edition of IMAGE Magazine, we are recognizing 5 very influential women who reside in San Antonio, Texas. Katherine Shields shares how she dealt with the devastating sudden loss of her late husband; Priscilla Hill-Ardoin speaks about her time spent in corporate America and the passing of her son from sickle cell disease; Paula Gold-Williams talks about her position as President and CEO of CPS Energy; Aaronetta Pierce informs us about her committment to uplifting African Americans and her friendship with the late renowned author, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou; and Jackie Gorman speaks about how East Side business owners benefit from the services of San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE). As I conversed with each of them, it was evident that they are resilient, hardworking, and on the move to make matters better whenever and wherever they can. The spotlight is on St. Philip’s College President, Dr. Adena Loston; author of the book Path to Peace, Angie Ransome-Jones; and business owner, Toni Campbell. IMAGE contributor, Michelle London-Bell, meets with actor, director, and author of the book Dark Girls, Bill Duke, to discuss his mission to positively impact the lives of our youth. You will also be informed about how to protect your home with life insurance and how to handle the impact of racial trauma. In addition, Dr. Trevor Alexander shares his perspective on the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the “All Lives Matter” response. As you read this edition, be inspired by the wisdom shared, and remember to support our advertisers who helped make this second issue of IMAGE possible.
DIANE HANNAH PUBLISHER
STAFF PUBLISHER Diane Hannah EDITOR T. Max McMillan EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Joy McGhee GRAPHIC DESIGN 356 Graphix COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Rocelyn Dunston ARA Photography ADVERTISING Diane Hannah MARKETING/PUBLIC RELATIONS Urban Media Group of Texas CONTRIBUTORS Dr. Trevor Alexander Michelle London-Bell Le Juene Montgomery Shewanda Riley Dr. Sandra Steen CONTACT US
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IMAGE Magazine is published quarterly. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Articles and letters will be edited due to space limitations as necessary. The views expressed in any story or column in this publication are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or advertisers. The publisher is not responsible for errors in advertising copy. IMAGE Magazine reserves the right to reject any article, photograph, or advertisement for any reason. IMAGE Magazine will not be held liable for services or products advertised in IMAGE. All product names, brand names, and trademarks may belong to their respective holders. Printed in the USA. IMAGE Magazine is committed to providing editorial content that is relevant to the interests of blacks in Texas with the intent to inspire each reader to use their gifts, talents, and resources to make a positive impact in the world. SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM 5
HELP! I’M STUCK! Creating, Clarifying & Re-Igniting Your Dreams INSPIRATION
By DR. SANDRA STEEN
n your path to pursuing your God-given dreams, have you reached a point of feeling stuck? You had the destination in mind, and you thought you were clear in your pursuit; however, something happened that caused you to feel unclear about your forward movement. There are plenty of biblical examples of being stuck. Joseph had big dreams, but he found himself stuck in a prison; the children of Israel got stuck in the wilderness; Jonah had his own ideas and got stuck in the belly of a whale; and David was stuck in a cave. Being stuck can feel stifling; yet, it can prove vital in moving you forward in the future. Most, if not all dreamers will reach this place at some point during their journey, and understanding how to evaluate this season is critical. There are times in our lives that chaos enters because we lose the clarity of our mission and our bigger vision or daily assignment. We can become distracted, discouraged, or even disillusioned. Being a dreamer will require action along with patience. Everything, including your dream, has an appointed time. Like a butterfly in a cocoon, the pressure of pushing is propelling your wings and your flight. You will reach the appointed destination if you do not give up! God promises a good outcome for our lives, and it will happen as we take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate the details according to His original plan. Planning is a key component to getting unstuck. Myles Munroe once said, “Planning is the management of the distance
between your conception and your destination. Planning is documented preconceived determination of how time will be used.” Self-examination is very important to evaluating, planning, and clearing that stuck place. Here are a few areas to check when you find your forward movement has been stalled in some way. Check your thinking. Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… • Know your personality and how it plays out in your daily thinking. • Create a plan for clarified thinking and focus. • Remove all blind spots and limiting beliefs. Check your actions. James 2:14-26 (MSG) Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? • Review your core values. • Create a one-sentence mission statement. • Review your purpose with the right questions. Check the people around you. Proverbs 27:17 (ESV) Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. • Identify the 4 critical relationships for your next level. • Identify who the right people are for the right things in your life.
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• Identify and eliminate any traces of potential jealousy in your relationships. Check your placement. I Kings 17:4 (ESV) You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. • Remember: We are seed, and God is the Wind. • Know the pecking order of divine placement. • Take the PPG Place test—Provision, Peace, God’s Glory. • Determine when your place is more than a physical location. Check your Timing. Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV) For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. • Identify the cycles and seasons for your dream. • Create an action plan by season. • Renew your faith while waiting.
Dr. Sandra Steen is an author, speaker and transformational life coach. She currently resides in Houston, Texas where she maintains a business consulting practice, rigorous speaking schedule, and a life coaching practice helping thousands get unstuck. For more information, visit www.Sandrasteen.com
You will reach the appointed destination if you do not give up!
EACH OF US HAS THE UNIQUE ABILITY TO TELL TIME WHAT TO DO. WE GIVE MEANING TO OUR TIME AS WE ARE MOTIVATED BY A CLEAR SENSE OF PURPOSE. WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH TOMORROW? HAVE YOU DETERMINED HOW THE NEXT 24 HOURS WILL GET YOU OUT OF THAT STUCK PLACE AND INTO YOUR GREATEST PURPOSE AND DREAMS? NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO BEGIN. Dr. Sandra Steen
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By SHEWANDA RILEY
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listened intently as my student explained how baffled she was that a friend who was once close to her was now writing vicious things about her online. “I thought she was my friend, but what she wrote about me on Facebook proves that she was never my friend.” She said they didn’t have a fight but noticed when she started attending college, her friend suddenly became very critical. My heart went out to her because I knew how painful that kind of quick relationship shift can be. In fact, I’d recently been through very similar experiences. Just like she was trying to figure out what went wrong with her friend, I had also spent time trying to figure out what happened with mine. I didn’t have an answer for her on why it happened, but I did offer her what I hoped was an encouraging word on how to handle it. And the word was simply: Soar! I shared with her that rather than focus on the past, she needed to focus on her future. Like the eagle that soars using the adverse winds to take it higher, she could soar higher if she kept the right attitude. Having the right attitude would help her soar above the hurtful words. Hater. That was the best way to describe her former friend. Simply put, haters are jealous people who make your life and the lives of those you love miserable. Unable to celebrate the success of others, angry and envious haters want to bring others down a notch and expose their flaws. R & B recording artist Jill Scott even touched on it in her song “Hate on Me” when she sang, “You cannot hate on me ‘cause my mind is free, feel my destiny, so shall it be.” It’s kind of like eagles and chickens. Once grown, eagles gracefully soar alone at high altitudes. On the other hand, non-flying chickens do their best to survive the rooster dominated pecking order of who is the most important. Eagles can see forward and to the side at the same time which helps them find food. Chickens spend a good deal of their time looking down at the ground for their food. Just like eagles and chickens don’t naturally spend time together, haters and those they hate, don’t either. It’s insane to expect someone who is jealous of you to support you. “I’ve had just about enough of this, and I’m not taking anymore!” I think if we are honest, most of us have either thought or uttered these words after someone (a hater) has rejected or hurt us. However, there will come a point when we will stop saying “enough” and start saying “next.” But when is that point? It’s different for everyone. For some it comes when the pain of saying “enough” is overshadowed by the hope of change. There is a strange comfort that comes in saying “enough” because the pain lets us know that we are still connected to someone or something else. It’s like someone staying in an abusive relationship because the pain of an abusive relationship is nothing compared to the pain that comes from being out of a relationship and alone. I once heard a great motivational speaker say that the best response to rejection isn’t “why?” but “next.” Responses like “enough” and “why” still keep us focused on the rejection and the one who rejected us. Focusing on “why” keeps us focused on the even more dangerous behavior of trying to understand or even justify the rejection. Figuring out “why” doesn’t change the rejection. In many instances, it just prolongs the finality of the rejection. Even though people have loads of advice on how to deal with
letters in “hater” and you get heart! You can choose to be a hater, or you can rearrange your life, soar, and show that you have heart.” rejection from “shake the dust off” to the more recent “shake them haters off”, you don’t really know how you are going to respond to rejection until it happens. And then we forget all those great words of advice because we are too busy trying to control our response to the rejection. Here’s a question to consider: At what point do you stop saying “enough” to rejection and start responding “next?” Saying “next” to rejection doesn’t mean that you are saying “yes” to the next rejection. It means that you are saying “yes” to the next opportunity. Rejection is so damaging because it keeps our focus on the past disappointments and failures. Saying “next” keeps you focused (hopefully) on the great things that will come in your future. Saying “next” might be the best way of showing that you are finally ready to let go of the past. Rearrange the letters in “hater” and you get heart! You can choose to be a hater, or you can rearrange your life, soar, and show that you have heart. When people (haters) suddenly shift out of your life, it’s a perfect opportunity to embrace those who can lovingly support not only where you are but where your destiny will take you.
TEXTING AND DRIVING MAKES GOOD PEOPLE LOOK BAD.
Portions of this article appeared originally in The Dallas Weekly.
Shewanda Riley is a Fort Worth based educator and author of the Essence best-seller, Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose after a Relationship Ends and Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers. She is also a syndicated columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM 9
DR. ADENA LOSTON President of St. Philip’s College San Antonio, Texas
Tell me about your educational background. I’m from Vicksburg, Mississippi. I grew up in the segregated south; the schools were all segregated. In fact, my class was the last class to graduate from Temple High School before it was integrated in 1970. It was all black, but by the time I was about to graduate, we had some white instructors. From there I attended a historically black college, Alcorn State University. My major was Business Education. What made you decide to major in business education? I wanted to follow my big sister. She was a great role model for me; whatever she did, I did. So to me, there was no decision to make. I just followed in her footsteps. When I finished my undergraduate coursework in May of 1973, I then went to Bowling Green State University to complete my masters. I completed my masters in 1974, and by that time my sister was teaching middle school, and she invited me to sit in and observe her class. I sat in her classroom with middle school children and that is when I had a point of departure. I realized that I did not want to do that and decided that I wanted to pursue teaching at the university level. After I completed my masters, I received offers for numerous positions, and I decided to teach at Arkansas State University. When they first called me, I turned them down several times. I didn’t even want to have the interview because Arkansas was the state that shut down schooling because they were fighting integration. They wanted to keep the south segregated, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with that state. They felt like a minority candidate would be perfect at Arkansas State University, so I flew to Jonesboro, Arkansas for the interview, and before I knew it, I was in Arkansas teaching. What was that experience like? I was miserable because of the isolation; the fish bowl I was in was the most challenging part. The first day when I walked into the faculty meeting in the auditorium, there was a hush over the entire room; it fell silent. That was because I was the first black female instructor they had hired at Arkansas State, so when I walked in that room, there was just silence. Imagine walking into an auditorium and everybody is talking and when you walk in it turns dead silent. That must have been an uncomfortable situation. Where did you get your PhD from? I went back to Bowling Green, and they paid for me to get my PhD. I had my heart set on going to Indiana University, and I was actually accepted into Indiana University. They just didn’t have any money to give me. Did your parents encourage higher education for you and your siblings? My parents were great motivators, and they had two different beliefs. My dad was like Booker T. Washington. He felt like all of his children needed to have a trade or a skill―something that they 10 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
Photo by Frank Baker
could do with their hands because growing up in Mississippi, he believed that you could be fired from a job, but a white man could never take away a skill or a trade. My mother was like W.E.B. Du Bois. She felt that all of her children had to go to college. Not that they were different, but my dad saw it from the vocational side, and my mother saw the importance of getting the academic degree. They both pushed education, they just pushed it in different arenas. I have always been a firm believer in the academic side as well as the vocational side because I saw it in my home. My father wanted us to have a trade, so I became a seamstress; that’s part of how I earned my money growing up. My mother taught me how to sow when I was in the 4th grade. What was the best advice that your mother ever gave you? We lived in the south, so my mother’s best advice was that you can live in hell for a little while if it gets you to where you want to be. She told us that constantly. And she told us to remember that the same voice that extols you will tear you down all in the same day. What’s the best advice that your father gave you? He always said that you never turn away any business. My dad was the first black self-employed plumber in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He would charge people according to the way they talked to his children. People would call the house for a plumber and call us the N-word, and we would write down everything they
said. Then my father would take the child who took the phone call to the house with him, and he would tell the person that he had a special price just for them. People thought my father was giving them a special price, but he was really jacking the price up based on the way they talked to his children. When someone would call the house and be polite to us, my father would take us to their home, finish the job, and then he would say “no charge.” He would do their plumbing for free, and they never understood why. It was all based on the way they talked to his children.
What advice do you give young women as they seek to achieve their goals? Have a value system because when you are dealing with people you can be swayed and pulled in many different directions. What are your thoughts on women in leadership? We need more!
Where were you employed prior to accepting your current position at St. Philip’s? I was the Chief Education Officer at NASA. I was responsible for directing policy on how we invested 1.3 billion dollars towards educational efforts. I had to anchor everything to the President’s Management Agenda. What do you enjoy most about your position as President? I enjoy being able to make a difference in the lives of our students and making sure that we have programmed services to help them achieve their goals. More than 40% of our students are over the age of 25. That generally means that they have been somewhere else before. I want to make sure that whatever their situation, they can accomplish their career goals. What characteristics describe you? I am very passionate about the things that I believe in. If you talk to any of my family or anybody that is around me on a day to day basis, they would say that I am very compassionate. And I speak boldly because the scriptures tell us to do so.
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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT When Dallas author, ANGIE RANSOME-JONES, was faced with the death of her mother to cancer and soon after the unexpected death of her father, she was thrust into a position of having to manage affairs that come with the territory of losing a loved one. In her recently released book, she shares practical steps that will help you navigate through the grieving process and ultimately find your own Path To Peace. Angie talks to IMAGE about her insightful message in hopes that you will be better equipped to manage your life while you deal with the nuances that accompany grief and loss.
What inspired you to write Path To Peace? When I lost my dad very suddenly in 2013, it was a very traumatic yet eye-opening experience for me because I learned that there is so much more to a person dying than just funeralizing them. Overnight, I was catapulted from a place of comfort into the unfamiliar in terms of planning my father’s funeral, settling his estate and financial affairs, and so many other things that we don’t plan for or even talk about until a person passes. Why is the information you provide in the book important? It’s important because a lot of people don’t realize that there is so much involved with the process, and now that I know, I feel it is my mission and ministry to educate people on what I refer to as the 3 P’s—Preparation, Prayer and Patience, which are all essential to achieving peace in these types of situations. Why do you believe that many people neglect to get their affairs in order prior to their death? I don’t think it’s a matter of neglect so much as it is a matter of lack of knowledge in terms of the importance of pre-planning. When I speak on preparation, I like to stress the importance of having those difficult conversations with your loved ones now, before it’s too late. Being prepared means having a Will & Testament in place to document one’s basic wishes and how their assets are to be divided. It also means having life insurance to cover any unexpected costs such as funeral expenses, debts, and miscellaneous expenses associated with a loved one’s death. Is there information in the book that you had no knowledge of prior to dealing with the death of each of your parents? Yes, and lots of it! I had no knowledge before about the importance of establishing beneficiaries and/or Payable on Death (POD) designees on your accounts—financial or otherwise. I also did not realize the importance of therapy as a method of healing prior to my journey. I wanted to make sure I included as much factual information as possible, which is why I have information from my attorney on the probate process, etc., my financial advisor on the importance of life insurance, and from a certified grief counselor on healing. The first half of the book deals with the logistics in terms of death, and the second half focuses on the discovery and healing aspect. What in your opinion is the single most important thing that should be done when dealing with the death of a loved one to minimize stress? It is so important to allow yourself to grieve and to realize that there is no time frame or expiration date on grieving and healing. 12 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
Take as much time as you need, and get help if you need it— whether that be in the form or counseling/therapy or any other source of healing that brings you comfort and peace. Where is the book available? It is available on my website via www.path-2-peace.com and on Amazon.com.
PATH TO PEACE CHAPTER 1
ntil a year ago, I had always equated Election Day with colorful yard signs, cooler weather and National Angie Ransome-Jones Day, also known as my birthday. Now, I equate it to my Daddy’s passing. It was a normal day, just like any other for me. I ran my mouth with Evelyn while trying to get some semblance of work done at home. The day before, I worked an election with my good friend, Janis, like I had for the past few years and was trying to play catch up like I always do whenever I take off from work. Coming off of a great weekend, I was on cloud 21! Dad came down to celebrate my 44th birthday, and I basked in the possibilities of another year as Myles, my son, prepared for his first semester of college. There were so many things to be thankful for. Little did I know what was to come. If not every single day, it was at least every other day that I talked to Daddy. Usually, we had a typical 2-minute conversation. “Hey Daddy, what you doing?” “Oh, nothing girl, just sitting here relaxing.”
Depending on whether I caught him half asleep or fully awake, the conversation could go one of a million ways. Mostly, we would get off the phone immediately with a casual goodbye. “Okay, just checking on ya. Daddy, go back to sleep.” We often shared any number of long drawn-out conversations on everything from gas prices to somebody on his job getting ill or something pertaining to a distant relative I had no memory of. But on this particular day, something was different. Something was off. I tried calling him the night before while I was still at the election site, just before I knew he would be taking a nap to get ready for work at midnight. I tried again when I closed the polls about 10 or 11 P.M. on my way home, hoping to catch him fresh out the shower before he got dressed and jumped into his truck for work. Daddy had the same pattern every day. It usually started with him lying or piddling around all day until dusk when it was time to prepare for his part-time “sleeping job” at the local bowling alley―the midnight shift. When I didn’t catch him, it wasn’t surprising. I knew for sure I’d catch him the next morning. After I failed to catch him for the umpteenth time, I did the one thing I dreaded most. Fearing a sharp reprimand, I called his job. Because I knew he hated his job and was just counting the days, even minutes until re-retirement, I was doubtful he was still there. And as it turned out, he wasn’t. Next, I did the second thing that I knew I would live to regret if he had merely overslept. I called his neighbor, Ms. Effie. After knocking, peeking through windows, and calling his name repeatedly, Ms. Effie called back to tell me that she had no luck but thought he may have been home because she saw both cars in his garage. After what seemed like hours of Ms. Effie knocking, calling out my Dad’s name, “Al! Al!” and trying to calm me down hundreds of miles away, she decided to call for backup in the form of her daughter, Erica, who I had also known for years. After a few more hours of knocking on windows, doors, and anything she could find, she called Dad’s phone repeatedly. Eventually, Erica heard his phone ring from inside the house. It was then, I knew he was gone. Daddy always carried his phone on his person in either a pocket or on a chain attached to his hip. The authorities wouldn’t tell me much except that he didn’t suffer. The room was left virtually undisturbed which suggested there was not a struggle. Instead, they said he was sitting upright in a chair with his breathing machine by his bedside and appeared to have passed peacefully. He presumably had an asthma attack, but the death certificate recorded it as “death by natural causes” and I’m okay with that. I had always imagined that I’d be there with him like I was when my mother took her final breath, but in this case, it wasn’t a part of God’s plan. STEP 1: MAKING THE CALL Notification Process: The first step and one of the most difficult of the 10 I will outline, is the notification process. Instead of contacting our immediate family first, I notified people I knew would kick into full gear to do some of the heavier lifting that I was neither mentally nor emotionally prepared to do yet. I recommend appointing a “go-to-man from the outset. You will need assistance in making dreadful phone calls while navigating through what will seem to be an endless list of people to notify; otherwise known as your “Call List.”
Handle with Care: In retrospect, after helping with the deaths of close friends, an important part of the process is to “Handle with Care.” This is important for those who meant the most to your loved one and would want to hear the news directly from you. I caused irreparable damage in my neglect of a relative that was near and dear to me and my Dad when he heard the news of his passing via word of mouth. Remember, word of mouth travels faster than the front page news. The Social Media Factor: In the notification process, it is also essential to consider and appropriately handle “The Social Media Factor.” Social media can be beneficial as it provides an avenue to notify the masses which saves a lot of time in the notification process and funeral arrangements. However, it can also be a detriment in the case where immediate family members have not been contacted and people begin posting on your or your family’s page. In my situation, this was not a factor since my father was not on any of the social media sites. However, in the case of my dear friend, social media became an issue as her family struggled with when, where, and how to notify their mother. Once I was appointed my friends go-to-man, I found myself checking Facebook almost every hour on the hour and in-boxing countless strangers asking them to remove their posts until the family was fully notified. Subsequently, most social media sites have instituted a process where a person can designate an individual to control his/her Facebook account in the event of death. STEP 2: REMOVAL OF THE BODY Trust Your Caretaker: I remember the first and most difficult of the calls I had to make—to my funeral home of choice. Needless to say, it was quite traumatic to inform people of my father’s passing, but even more so, to arrange for the transfer of his body from the coroner’s office. While the spirit of your loved one will have already departed their body, it will be a more comforting feeling to know that their earthly “vessel” is in a more secure location. This will be necessary whether your loved one passes at home or is pronounced deceased at a hospital. Having gone through a similar scenario with my mother prior to this, I knew exactly who to call, “Brother Dean.” He was my mother’s former pastor’s brother and happened to own Guerrero-Dean Funeral Home that was very near to where we lived. Because my mother passed away at home, this step was considerably more difficult as minutes turned into hours while we sat in full view of her lifeless body. Brother Dean had to drive hours to come and take her away. Fortunately, Daddy’s body was already removed when we arrived at the house, making the process much easier to bear.
For More Information about Angie Ransome-Jones, visit www.Path-2-Peace.com
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HER HER ENTREPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT
Successful entrepreneur, TONI CAMPBELL, owner of House of Royal T Beauty Bar and Lounge in San Antonio, talks about her humble beginnings, life as a teenage mom, and her determination to succeed despite the odds that were stacked against her. Her inspiring story is a testament that perseverance and hard work pay off.
Photo by Kauwuane Burton
By DIANE HANNAH
IMAGE: How long have you owned your own business? TONI: Over 20 years. IMAGE: What has contributed most to your success? TONI: Never giving up. IMAGE: Have there ever been times that you wanted to give up? TONI: A lot of times. IMAGE: What made you keep going? TONI: I don’t know how to quit, and I don’t want to be a quitter. IMAGE: What business advice do you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? TONI: I live by the three H’s. Always remain humble, always be honest, and always stay hungry. IMAGE: Hungry for? TONI: For more, because if you feel like you’ve arrived, you’re done. When I say be honest, I mean be honest about knowing your strengths and your weaknesses; you have to be honest with yourself. IMAGE: What about humility? TONI: You have to know that none of this was done because of you. Everything that was given to you was given to you by God. I came from nothing. I know nothing but to be humble. IMAGE: Did you ever think that you would one day own your own business and be as successful as you are? TONI: No, never. I grew up in the projects. Growing up, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I think the turning 14 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
point was when I got pregnant at 16. I didn’t know what I was going to do; I barely knew what to do with myself, so a baby was another issue. Once I had the baby and graduated from high school―I was one of the first people to graduate from high school in my family so that was already an accomplishment―I just came to a point where I wondered what I was going to do with my life. A friend of mine who lived in the projects decided that she wanted to go to beauty college and because we were so close, I chose to go to beauty college with her because I didn’t have anything else to do. I got there and liked it. She quit, and I kept going. IMAGE: What do you enjoy the most about being a hairstylist? TONI: I love people. I love conversing with them and telling them my story and also hearing their stories. At the end of the day, it’s about building relationships; it’s never really just about hair. IMAGE: You mentioned God earlier. How has your faith in God attributed to your success? TONI: Without God, I’m nothing. When I first started doing hair, I felt like this was all about me, but as I grew in the business, I realized that everything I went through―from teenage pregnancy, being in a failed marriage, and coming up in the struggle―set me up for ministry. I share my testimonies with people who sit in my chair so they can relate to me. I understand where I came from and where I’m going. I was born with a heart defect, but God has made my heart strong. I love hard, and I have such a passion for people and for what I do that people see it and know that God has everything to do with what I do. IMAGE: Tell me more about the heart defect. TONI: I had a deformed heart and two open heart surgeries when I was a child. My grandmother raised me, and she kind of babied me and kept me real close to her. When I was born, the doctor said that I wouldn’t live to be seven. Once I was seven, I had to go to the doctor once a month. I actually had to live in the hospital for a while because it was so easy for me to catch a bacterial infection. When I was twelve, they removed the tubes that kept my heart fluctuating, and everything started going well until I got pregnant. They wanted me to have an abortion because they didn’t think my heart could take it; they felt like I would die while delivering my baby. IMAGE: You were not willing to have an abortion? TONI: No, and my grandmother fought for me because I was young. She said, “Nope, she will not have an abortion.” I remember delivering my daughter and looking up and seeing nuns around me and a priest. I will never forget that because I felt like they just knew I was going to die, but I just pushed my baby right out. IMAGE: So that was a miracle in itself. TONI: Yes! Yes!
IMAGE: You said you came up in the struggle. What was your life like growing up in the projects? TONI: The area that I lived in was very heavy in gangs and drugs. I’ve seen gang initiations, I’ve seen shootings, and I’ve seen people die in front of me. You name it, I’ve seen it. But I never got involved in that. IMAGE: Your grandmother must have had a major influence in your life since she raised you. What does she mean to you? TONI: She means the world to me. When I was born, my mom couldn’t stand the fact that they said I was going to die, so my grandmother said that she would take care of me, and she took me from the hospital. She was a praying grandmother who was fighting for me, so I feel like I owe it to her to be successful. IMAGE: I’m sure you’ve made her proud. TONI: I have. IMAGE: What’s your relationship with your daughter like? TONI: We’re very close. I probably get on her nerves, but I push her because I want her to understand the true importance of entrepreneurship as a black woman. I have to really be hard on her, but she understands it. I’m really trying to help her and build her character to make sure she stands up for what she believes in and goes for what she wants in life. Nobody is going to give you anything. IMAGE: Do you think she’s a lot like you? TONI: Definitely. She’s a go-getter like me and just to see her
standing on her own and becoming her own woman makes me proud as a mom. IMAGE: What was it like raising her as a single parent? TONI: Being a person who was married to my high school sweetheart and then divorced made me a firm parent. I’ve been firm since I was young growing up in the projects; that toughened me up. That’s all I know because I’ve had to struggle. Sometimes my toughness is taken the wrong way, but it’s made me who I am―a strong black woman. I won’t bow down, but I do know how to be humble. IMAGE: What is most important to you? TONI: My children. IMAGE: How many children do you have? TONI: Three—two that I had and one that I adopted. IMAGE: What do you believe about your success as a business woman and everything that you’ve overcome? TONI: God is good. He is real. And He loves me.
Photo by Kauwuane Burton
“Sometimes my toughness is taken the wrong way, but it’s made me who I am―a strong black woman. I won’t bow down, but I do know how to be humble.”
Visit www.salonroyalt.com and the House of Royal T Beauty Bar and Lounge Facebook page for additional information. SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM 15
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Actor Director Producer Writer Humanitarian
BILL DUKE By MICHELLE LONDON-BELL Bill Duke is both entrenched and invested in our youth. His passion is educating young minds and providing guidance and resources to those aspiring to build a career in film and media. He truly believes that our children are indeed the future and that it is critical to invest in them to ensure our community’s success. “The only thing holding you back is you. When I first started in this business [as a director], it cost me thousands for my first camera. Today, you can buy a couple of cameras with a few hundred dollars and distribute your own videos. Don’t wait to be discovered, discover yourself.” –Bill Duke After speaking to bright young minds at the Imani School in Houston, Texas, a Q & A session was held. Students asked him everything from his origins with racism to the current state of colorism in our society. The appearance culminated with a book signing of Dark Girls. Mr. Duke sat down with me to discuss his ventures, including his philanthropic efforts and a pilot television show for Blacksicans. “The show is about a Mexican family and a black family that have to coexist after their son and daughter get married. The child born of the marriage is both black and Mexican—hence, Blacksican. And to add another layer of complexity, the Mexican father can’t stand blacks. This is just another example of dealing with the issue of colorism in this country,” says Duke. He expressed that although his documentary has made a positive impact since its
Empowering Today’s Young Leaders
debut a few years ago and a dialogue now exists, there is still a long way to go. “We [as African Americans] are focusing on the wrong things. There are so many other issues in our community that deserve more attention than skin color.”
“We [as African Americans] are focusing on the wrong things. There are so many other issues in our community that deserve more attention than skin color.”
A popular hashtag has surfaced in social media, #Flexinmycomplexion, which gives a voice of pride and confidence to darker-skinned individuals. “I think it’s great; it helps the cause and progress,” says Mr. Duke. He expressed that although we are making strides in the right direction, many today still have scars from experiences connected with society’s deep-seated biases and hate of our people. While speaking to Imani students, he cited his early experiences recalling the hurt and anguish he felt during a name-calling incident at school. “When I got home that day, my mother actually stopped me from drinking bleach,” says Duke. It was this very pain that Bill tapped into to fuel his success as a Hollywood actor
and, inevitably, create his documentary. Dark Girls features Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis. It spotlights her pain and issues with skin color on her road to stardom. Even though we have a few examples in Hollywood of progress like Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, and Gabourey Sidibe, Duke expressed that “Hollywood is still not there yet”—with darker-skinned women as leading ladies and love interests in mainstream movies. “We can change that; that’s why I encourage our youth to create and distribute their own films. My foundation, The Duke Media Foundation, teaches all of that as well as financial literacy which is involved in executing a media project.” For more information or to donate to the foundation, visit www.Dukemediafoundation.org.
Bill Duke and IMAGE Magazine Contributor, Michelle London-Bell
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Conversations AARONETTA PIERCE
PRISCILLA HILL-ARDOIN PAULA GOLD-WILLIAMS JACKIE GORMAN KATHERINE SHIELDS
MODERATED BY DIANE HANNAH PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROCELYN DUNSTON
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Aaronetta Pierce CIVIC LEADER AND ADVOCATE FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN ART AND CULTURE
Why were you inpired to start Premier Artworks? We were inspired because we love the work of African American visual artists, and the struggle is so enormous because it’s hard to be an artist. So the creation of Premier Artworks was an opportunity to help place the works of African American artists in museums, galleries, and private collections. Do you feel like that was something that was missing in San Antonio? Oh, it’s still missing everywhere; it’s still very systemically missing—in museums, all over. But it’s far better than it used to be. There was a time when there were no African American works of art in most of the museum art collections here in San Antonio, but that has changed. When did you start Premier Artworks? We started it in 1990. It’s kind of wound down a little bit now. We are hopeful that others will take up the mantle and move it on to keep it alive. We also incorporated books into that, so that’s why we are winding it down because we’re still acquiring and placing books. Do you still sell books? Yes. Some of them are catalogues that tell the story of art; some are artistic creations. One is a huge book with John Biggers and Maya Angelou. It was done out of New York with a limited edition club. Maya Angelou and John Biggers were good friends, so that’s why she chose to collaborate with him. Speaking of Maya Angelou, you two were very good friends. How did she inspire you? Oh, my goodness! That is a lifetime of telling and the reason that I did the tribute to Maya Angelou last June. She inspired me to be myself, to learn the self of others, and to inspire goodness in others. I think she taught all of us so much. While we no longer have her―and I miss her on so many days―she left us so much that is so worthy of being studied, read, enjoyed, and learned from. I find myself quoting her in every conversation. What is a Maya Angelou quote that is very meaningful to you? 20 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
People will not always remember what you did and what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” It’s so important that as we communicate with others that we do so with some grace, some kindness, and some honesty. She said that there is every reason to be truthful or honest, but there is no reason to be brutally honest. We want to get the point over so honestly and so sincerely that sometimes it comes out rough. She just reminded me of things like that. How did you two meet and become friends? We met when she was in San Antonio in the early 1980’s to perform at the Carver for a big music festival that the city was putting on. There was to be a party for her after that performance, and we were asked to host the party. She was amazed when she walked into our home and saw our collection of books and all of the works of art that we had by John Biggers whom she loved, and he was already a friend of hers. She felt like a home is decorated with who you are, and she liked what she saw in the quality of our trappings. That’s how my husband and I met her. She was certainly a phenomenal woman. What do you believe is the essence of womanhood? The essence of womanhood is honesty, integrity, and grace. My mother was all of those things. I saw it also in Maya Angelou. I believe that we have a responsibility to ourselves to lift ourselves up and show our best selves, and also, to put our best foot forward so that those who come in contact with us can see who we are. So our children can see who we are and understand that what we have internally and how we reflect our internal self is our greatest gift, and nobody can ever take that away from us. What main principles do you live your life by? Never stop growing and learning. Respect yourself and others. Believe that the best is available to you and yours. And be grateful. What characteristics best describe you? Faithful. Dedicated. Hopeful. I am faithful to God and faithful to goodness—whatever form that takes. I want to lift up (continued on page 22)
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(continued from page 20) the goodness in my culture; I’m very committed to lifting African Americans so that we see ourselves as the great hope that we are―that we understand our history, how we came to be here, and how we came to be who we are. We must understand what our impediments have been, how we have grown beyond those, and how we are still trying to grow our sisters and brothers beyond the impediments that beat them down. What are you dedicated to? I’m dedicated to helping the honest history of America prevail. Until America understands the harshness of its past and how it has succeeded on the backs of those that it still beats down―until America really understands its true history―I don’t think we will ever be as great and as honest as the democracy we profess. I want America great for all people, for all its citizens, and I don’t use citizens to cast aspersions on people who are working to become citizens in this country, but I mean the people who own this country need to earn the goodness, and I’m dedicated to reinforcing America’s honest look at its past. I think that when we get history to tell the truth, then we’re really on the right track; we’re really moving in the right direction so when your children, my children, and white children read the same thing, that speaks highly of the truth of our cultural legacy and our contributions to this country. African Americans built most of the colleges in this country. It’s just undeniable―the lack of honesty that has been told about our story. And the lack of honesty about our story has led to the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the “All Lives Matter” slogan. What they don’t understand about Black Lives Matter is that what we are really saying is that black lives haven’t mattered, so we have to say that black lives do matter. First of all, we can’t live our lives to satisfy them any more. We have to work hard to satisfy the desperately lost and disrespected African American children that are out there; that has to be the emphasis. One of the reasons I think that white Americans are unwilling to look at the truth is that they find it hard to believe because they’ve been lied to for so long that they don’t believe that what we’re saying is true. Lied to how and about what? Just as we have. I heard a young man speak at Trinity University who has a movie on Netflex called Dear White People. He said, “Black people don’t realize what an enormous lie has been perpetrated about them as inferior.” He went on to say that “unfortunately, white people don’t realize the lie that has been perpetrated about them that they are superior.” That is the truth of it. If they don’t think that we are inferior, how can they be superior? They really do believe that we are lazy, not artistic, all of these things. The lie has been told so well that they’ve convinced all of us. I heard a man say that black people have been considered lazy ever since we stopped working for free. Yes! Yes! And they think that we are here for their pleasure. It’s not everybody of course; Barack Obama wouldn’t be in the White
House if that were the case. I have many white friends who are wonderful people, but there are still too many white people who believe that we are here for their pleasure, and we’re cute. And that just breaks my heart. It doesn’t break my heart that they’re so ignorant, it breaks my heart for the young black children who are left ignorant because of that. But also, there are more good white people out there than bad; there are more helpful white people. The thing is, there are a lot of good white people out there who still don’t get it. They’ve just been branded in their minds all of these years, and it’s just amazing. And you said you are hopeful. I believe that trouble don’t last always. I’m hopeful that we each use our time on this earth to advance civilization in a more humane and loving culture. I’m hopeful that we all accept that responsibility. I’m hopeful that African Americans find their due respect, but even more important, I’m committed to having our young people find their self-respect. In what ways do you do that? [Laughs] I think we all pray a lot! Yes, we do! I know you volunteer a lot as well. Yes. And I try to tell good stories to the public that are reinforcing of the qualities of goodness and self-respect. What are you passionate about? My family. We have two sons and three grandchildren. I enjoy being a grandmother. My husband and I have been married for over 51 years. That’s a very long time. We jokingly say, “Nobody left.” You have to stay through the good and the bad. It’s give and take. We know we’re blessed that we’re still alive. What is a lesson that you learned from your mother? She taught me unconditional love. When you’re able to give and receive unconditional love, you are blessed. And your father? My father taught me some of the same things. He also taught me to appreciate education—to value it and to keep striving. What college did you graduate from? I first attended Tennessee State, but I transferred and graduated from the University of Iowa. You’re a former teacher, correct? Yes. I taught for 3 years at what is now Martin Luther King Academy, but at that time, it was Riley Junior High. I enjoyed it very much. What are your thoughts on public service and giving back to the community? I believe it is our reason for being and that those of us who have any extra money, time, love, energy, and self-respect, have to do something for somebody else. I think that as long as we have something to give, there’s somebody that we need to give it to. You have raised two successful sons. What is your advice to mother’s raising sons? Enforce their confidence and courage to help them be who they want to be and need to be. Let them know that they are respected,
“I’m very committed to lifting African Americans so that we see ourselves as the great hope that we are―that we understand our history, how we came to be here, and how we came to be who we are.”
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“I believe in my people...” admired, loved unconditionally, and that you hold them to a standard of responsibility for all of those gifts you give them. Is there anything else you would like to share? I would like to say that one of the things that I’m happiest about and that made me do this interview is that we have to help young women of color grow, and it is always a bonus for me to see a young woman who I’ve known for a long time growing and lifting up herself, her family, and other black women. Thank you. I appreciate that. What is something that we can do as African Americans to uplift ourselves? I like to make sure that we encourage ourselves to read. Know who is writing good books, and read them. We can’t lift up black people if we don’t know what we’ve done, what we’re writing, and what we’re saying. If you don’t know who’s on the best seller list that’s African American, or if you don’t know what great scholars are writing, become informed; be better. I would also encourage us to know and read poetry. When you think about a few lines that Maya Angelou has written that have changed people’s lives or when you think about Langston Hughes saying, “I too sing America,” on a very small page, you can understand that we’ve been crying out good messages. But if nobody knows it’s out there, if children don’t read it, and if nobody knows it’s being done, it’s lost. So I would say, read poetry, read books, be better. Be the best that you can be. What do you believe in? I believe in my people, and I want the best for us.
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Hill-Ardoin RETIRED AT&T EXECUTIVE FOUNDER, AARON ARDOIN FOUNDATION
What brought you to San Antonio? My job. I worked with SBC prior to us acquiring AT&T. Where did you reside prior to moving to San Antonio? I’m a native Houstonian, but prior to moving to San Antonio, I worked in Washington, D.C. What was your position in San Antonio? I was the Chief Compliance Officer and the Chief Privacy Officer. I developed the compliance program enterprise-wide for the company and did the same for privacy. I was the company’s first privacy officer. My responsibility was to create a culture of compliance across the company’s entire portfolio, and I did the same for privacy. What did you enjoy about your job? I liked building that culture and working with the business units creating a mechanism to build a strong culture that would protect the customers’ interests. Were there many women who held similar positions during your career? I started with the company in 1975, and I came in while the company was bringing in a few females. We were taking positions in management that were not previously held by women; we were performing roles that have traditionally been roles for men. In some instances, they were ground breaking. It took a little while, but they were on board, and they started putting women and people of color in those positions. When I came to San Antonio, we had not had a compliance officer, and we had not had a privacy officer before or anyone that functioned in those positions. Was your transition to those positions easy? Nothing worth having is ever easy. I can say it was a well-supported one, and for that reason, it makes being successful in a position well. It makes you comfortable, and it gives you the confidence to do the job. As a woman, when you are in a job where you are supported and there’s a structure there and a culture, that grooms you as a female. Describe yourself in three words. Resilient, tenacious, and tremendously grateful.
Where do you think you got your tenacious attitude from? All things in my life are a gift from God Almighty, including a very wise and supportive mother and father. My mother told me when I went to school to never let a poor teacher be my reason for not learning. My father would tell me to know who I am and whose I am and to understand that “all those schools you go to are not the only places that you get an education.” Tell me a little about your background in Houston? I’m the third of 8 children. I’m from a low socioeconomic background, and I graduated from Worthing High School. How long have you been married? Over 39 years. What do you attribute those 39 years to? A good choice, just having chosen well. I was 25 when I got married. By the time we married, I had a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, a job, and I had my own apartment. I had a savings account, my own car, furniture, and credit in my name. I didn’t feel pressed to get married. Was it important for you to have those things prior to marriage? It was. I had to decide to share. I had independence, and I had to decide that I wanted somebody else to be a part of this. It wasn’t like I didn’t have anything, so I didn’t feel a need to get married. I ask young people all the time, “If you haven’t had anything of your own, what do you have to share besides your body?” I felt like I had plenty to offer, and I never felt like I couldn’t make it on my own. You said that you chose well. Do you feel that many women make the wrong choice by marrying the wrong person? I’m not going to say many. I’m also an attorney, so I’m careful not to say many. But I can say that can be the case when you make that decision for the wrong reasons. Being prepared has always been important to me. I have a bachelor’s degree and master’s from Purdue in communications, an MBA from Washington University, and I went back to school to get a JD when I was 40 years old. What made you go back to school? I have always loved law; I’ve always been facinated by it. SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM 25
If you think about my age and when I went to college, I could not have gone with the laws that were passed at that time. I’m a product of the Civil Rights Movement. Brown vs. Board of Education and other laws have given me opportunities. A landmark case was settled in March of 1975—a gender based discrimination case. Part of that class act settlement was that they hire females into management and have them in nontraditional jobs. I started the bill system in 1975 directly into a management position. So the law has been very important for my development and opportunities in my life. I have always been fascinated by it. Going to law school was something I always wanted to do; it was another opportunity for me to put another tool in my tool kit.
“I would tell any mother what I tell myself—to be grateful in all things, to give thanks for all things, and to take comfort in the arms of our Lord who is bigger and greater than all of us.” Another tool in your tool kit that’s very dear to you is the Aaron Ardoin Foundation. Yes. It’s called the Aaron Ardoin Foundation for Sickle Cell Research and Education. I started it 10 years ago. 11 years ago we lost our oldest son, Aaron. He had a very rare form of sickle cell disease called sickle beta; it isn’t as rare now as it was then. Aaron didn’t survive a surgery, and he died here in San Antonio. So we started the Aaron Ardoin Foundation to increase awareness, enhance treatment, promote prevention, and advance the cure. We are a fundraising foundation, and we provide grants to other 501c3 organizations who are doing things to impact sickle cell. We’ve done things on a collaborative basis. For example, we provided funds to establish a visiting professorship at Washington University which is the only initiative that is known around the country specifically for sickle cell. They bring a visiting professor in to talk to the medical students. We partnered with Vanderbilt University and the Center of Excellence in Sickle Cell Disease in Nashville, Tennessee so they can go cradle to grave in following sickle cell patients. We recently gave University Hospital a $10,000 grant. Do you seek out those organizations? Sometimes we seek them out, and sometimes they come to us. Has the foundation helped you in your healing process? It has. It’s a constructive thing to do. Last September, we had a Family Fit Day event that we sponsored in San Antonio. The community came out, and we did all types of things. It was a fundraiser to raise awareness about sickle cell disease. What would you say to a mother grieving the loss of her child? I would say that it feels quite unnatural to lose a child, but birth is a gift from God. My God plans the return of all of us, but we don’t get to choose when. As a mother, there is nothing that I would not have done for my son. I worked to provide him with the best education and the best quality of life. I would have made sacrifices for anything that I thought would have been a positive contribution to his growth and development, but it would have been beyond my capacity as a mother to have ever made a decision like the one my heavenly Father made. God made a decision, and my son is in a better place. I would tell any mother what I tell myself—to be grateful in all things, to give thanks for all things, 26 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
and to take comfort in the arms of our Lord who is bigger and greater than all of us. Keep your memories present, and do not stop saying your child’s name. Talk about the child as a family, and remember all of the funny things they used to say. Sometimes the death of a child can result in challenges in marriage. Was that something that you experienced? I think it made our marriage stronger. It created another need for us to have to take care of each other. My husband wanted to take care of me differently because he saw me hurting in a new and different way; and in turn, I wanted to do the same for him. It grew our younger son up very quickly. The boys are two years apart, and he felt he had to take care of us differently. That was something that we really had to talk about because we had to make sure he understood that that wasn’t his job. There was no new role that he had, and he could not fill the void left by his brother. My husband and I had to stay close and continue to love each other, and he didn’t have a part in that. What has sustained you throughout the years since Aarons death? Our faith has sustained us, and we have relied on each other a lot. What is something that most people don’t know about you? I’m a closet golfer. Oh, really? How long have you played? Probably 10 years. I don’t do it often enough, but I enjoy it. I don’t play it to be good; I play it to enjoy the elements. And I love interior decorating. What is something that you believe in wholeheartedly? I believe in God Almighty, and He believes in me. You’ve changed so many lives through the foundation and not just locally, but globally. Your generosity and concern is making a lasting impact. Thank you. We’re grateful for the communities and other countries that have supported our efforts, and we’re grateful for San Antonio and the companies that sponsor our events as well as the individuals who continue to support the Aaron Ardoin Foundation.
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Gold -Williams PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER CPS ENERGY
Congratulations on being named the new President and CEO. Thank you. I’ve been here, so I know everybody. I’m very familiar, but the view is different. Previously, I had 650 people so that was a pretty broad view; I went from 650 to over 3,000. What are you looking forward to the most? I’m looking forward to being even more immersed in every strategy—not just in a financial or an internal service way. That’s just the design of my core role—to provide shared service to the organization, payroll, fleet, supply chain, IT. All of that is my normal thing, and that’s great. But in the CEO role, you have to really focus in on every other aspect of the front end delivery of service. How do you do better in customer service? How do you do better in helping the city grow? How do you help with that development? I touched all that before, but in this role it’s multidimensional. What do you enjoy most about your position and your responsibilities? The people and everything that they bring every day. It’s like a city within a city. We’ve got skilled employees that know everything about every inch of our infrastructure; they are technical and dedicated. They climb the poles in bad weather and hot weather. We’ve got engineers, accountants, analysts, nurses, lawyers, marketing people, and public relations. You can find expertise and dedication throughout this organization. We execute at a high level of quality, and we make better decisions together. So for me, it’s about the connection with the people. What are your goals for CPS Energy? CPS Energy has a tremendous legacy; we’ve been around for 155 years, so my goal is to continue our legacy. The world is very different and particularly in the energy world; everything is changing and evolving, and it’s complicated. Nothing is straightforward. There’s nothing but ambiguity, complexity, and challenge. But really, when you break all that down, it’s opportunity. My want for CPS Energy is to keep on its current path of leveraging the strong tradition that we have—the survivor instinct that we have and make sure that we are moving forward in this new space in a new way. Are you originally from San Antonio? Yes. I grew up on the East Side and graduated from Sam Houston
High School. I was a Cherokee back then; we’re now Hurricanes. I met my husband at Sam Houston, and we’ve been married for over 31 years. When people see us they say, “I can’t believe you two are still married.” We are, and he is great. Did you know what kind of job you wanted to have when you were a child? I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t know that I could really make it in college; it wasn’t a normal part of my family’s upbringing. We didn’t have doctors, attorneys, or lawyers in my family. Were you the first to go to college in your family? I was the first to go full-time and graduate. I took an accounting course while at Sam Houston, and I liked it. That’s when I began to think more seriously about college, so I talked to my father about it. I tell this story a lot. I talked to my father, and I told him, “I think I might want to be an accountant.” His comment was, “You know, that seems like a lot of pressure. Accountants have to balance to the penny.” He kind of encouraged me not to do something that tedious. So initially, I started out at San Antonio College. I was a fine arts major, and I actually took a lot of art classes, dance classes, and literature. I snuck and took an accounting class for my own satisfaction. Not that my dad wouldn’t support me, but I took the accounting class just to verify, and I still really liked it. So it was in your heart? Yes. Accounting was in my heart. I got my fine arts degree from San Antonio College which I really appreciate, and I was able to apply for a transfer scholarship to St. Mary’s University. I went there and got a bachelor’s in business Administration and started working later in life after I was married and had two children. Who would you say has influenced you the most throughout your career? I would say indirectly my parents because even though they weren’t professionals, they had such a sense of commitment to do whatever. They would tell me, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or not, you’ve got to work every day, be on time, know what you’re doing, and be committed.” So they built all of these foundational things in me that I just pick from all the time. They were just hard working salt of the earth people. They made a distinction between being good and doing the right thing versus just getting things done, and that has always resonated with me. SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM 29
As a leader, how would you like your followers to describe you? As genuine, team-oriented, respectful, and intense. How would you describe yourself in three words? Analytical. You can’t be an accountant without being analytical; everything boils down to analytics. Very diligent. I don’t let things go. People laugh about that, but I am very committed, so I will walk through things and just make sure because I believe that failure is a lack of follow through. You’re destined to fail unless you’re diligent and you’re following all the way through. And I am completely engaged. I am honored to be in the role that I am in today. For a young African American girl from the East Side of San Antonio who knew nothing about business to be sitting where I’m sitting is overwhelming to me. I believe that you have to be actively engaged in every single opportunty that you have. Active engagement is supposed to be contagious, so if you don’t care and you’re apprehensive and holding back, why would anybody else not do the same? Again, that’s just an avenue for failure, so engagement is really important to me. What sustains you daily? I would have to say people. I’m just highly interactive; I’m an extroverted introvert, so I can sit in my office all day and work, but I like to get out of my office and talk to folks and get things done. So that’s what sustains me professionally and personally. What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about doing a good job with every opportunity and from everybody’s perspective—not just mine because customers expect you to do a good job everyday, day in and day out. There’s got to be a commitment from that standpoint. If we failed, I passionately want to understand how we failed. What did we do? What are we going to do differently? How are we going to prevent that next customer from having that experience? You’ve got to be passionate about that to correct it. Sometimes what seems like an insurmountable problem can be overwhelming, but no problem is really insurmountable. You just have to have passion about what the resolution is, and it’s the same for employees. They are working every day to make things happen, and my focus is being passionate about how to give them the environment and the support to make right decisions and to feel like they can learn from each other, their experiences, and even from their mistakes. It’s all about how we leverage people inside and outside our organization and that’s absolutely key. What do you think is a distinct difference between the way men and women lead in corporate America? Women are probably more in tune to interactions on a personal level, so the way that I engage is typically very personable. But on the other hand, in my case, that’s balanced with analytics. We can’t run an 11-billion dollar company on qualitative only. There is a ton of analytical stuff, so I have to be absolutely intense. What is your message to African American females who are striving to navigate their way to the top? Most of the time people either try to figure it out or don’t put any effort in at all, and I would say that the point is to be conscious in the moment, and really think broadly about things around you. If you want to be at the top, it’s not about wanting to be at the top, it’s about wanting to understand what your organization needs. How does it work? How does it function? So when you understand that, you start thinking about how to solve problems, how to put out ideas, and how to take opportunities. A lot of people, for example, will go after a job, but if they don’t get it, they’re 30 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
depressed. If they do get it, maybe they are scared or they feel that it’s about time. But I always tell folks that these opportunities don’t exactly come when you want them. Sometimes you have to move a little left, a little right; you have to expand yourself. You have to put yourself out there. Insert yourself in opportunities that don’t necessarily look linear. What you’re really doing is more about what the organization needs than just your desire to move up. I feel like people who just want to move up lose sight of the value they are supposed to be providing to the organization. When you start to see the organization for all its opportunities and all its needs and you start fitting yourself in there, that’s how you start growing and people will take notice. Just be a really dedicated person along that path. What are your thoughts about Hillary Clinton? I went to an investment conference, and she had a speaking engagement where she talked to participants, and I got a chance to meet her. How was that? It was an absolute pleasure.You know, you see somebody for what seems like 20 years, and you feel like you know them. She’s as genuine in person as she is on TV. I have a great deal of respect for her. I’m glad that as a woman she feels that committed to serve and that she’s willing to try it again. Do you think we’re ready for a woman president? Absolutely! I remember when President Obama was initially elected. In my parents’ lifetime—actually they both passed away before that occurred—it wasn’t even contemplated that that could happen. When it did, to me it was a signal that anything could happen. So a woman president is something that I think I’ll see in my lifetime.
15058 HWY 6, ROSHARON, TEXAS 77583 • 832.891.7741
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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SAN ANTONIO FOR GROWTH ON THE EASTSIDE (SAGE)
What is the purpose of SAGE? We’re in the business of economic development. Our goal is to create jobs and to raise the standard of living for people in the community by working with the businesses in the community, encouraging them, and recruiting more businesses to the East Side. How long have you been the Executive Director of SAGE? 5 years. What type of work did you do prior to accepting the position? I was a head hunter. I had my own firm. What led to your employment with SAGE? I was in my office one day working, and a head hunter called me and said that a bunch of people told them that they should call me about the positon. I agreed to talk to them, and I accepted the job. What are your responsibilities? I’m responsible for managing the staff, directing the programs, setting the strategic direction, raising the money, reaching the payroll and other duties. I answer to our board of directors. What do you enjoy most about your position? Knowing that we’re changing the community. Who were the mentors that shaped the trajectory of your career? The first mentors that anyone has is their parents. My parents always told me that there was nothing I couldn’t do. “No” was never the answer. It may have been that we needed to figure out how we were going to make something work, but there has never been anything that I wanted to do that they didn’t encourage me to do. Sometimes that’s not a good thing because I’m fiercely independent. I was talking to my dad about that, and he reminded me that that’s how he raised me. If I get a flat tire while driving down the street, I’m the person who might call roadside assistance, but if I’m in a hurry, I might just fix the tire. My dad’s rule was: If you drive the car, you fix the car. So I’ve changed many tires. What’s a principle that you live your life by? One of my other mentors is Dr. Laura Banks-Reed, and she says that “service is the price you pay for taking up space on this earth. It’s the rent that we pay for air that we breathe.” I’m happiest when I’m doing something that has a tangible result and that’s helping other people. Most of the things that I do outside of work are about helping other people―paying back 32 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
some of the things people did for me along the way. What do you attribute your success to? I think one of the reasons I am successful at what I do is because I believe in telling the truth. Sometimes the truth is not pretty, but people know that if I say it, I absolutely believe it. It’s the truth as I see it. It may not be politically correct, and it may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth as I know it. If you have integrity and bring that integrity to what you do, you can be successful. When you are not true to yourself or true to what you believe, that’s when you get in trouble. What motivates you? I have been blessed by God. I believe that I am here today because this is where God has ordained me to be, so I’m doing God’s work. He sent me here to do this, and that’s what motivates me to do what I do. What three words describe you? Precise. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right. Demanding. I expect and demand the best of myself, and I demand the best out of the people around me including the businesses that we work with. The other word would have to be dedicated. I’m really committed to the East Side. I’m not going to let anybody derail what it is we are trying to do. What is the most important thing that you want people to know about SAGE? That SAGE is a business resource for the East Side. If we don’t know the answer to a question that a business owner has, we know someone who does. If you’re a developer and you’re thinking about coming to the East Side, call us first. We can connect you with real estate, we can talk to you about city incentives, and we can help you find workers. If you’re a small business owner on the East Side, we can help you with marketing. What else does SAGE assist businesses with? SAGE does a bunch of things for businesses. The things that people know about us mostly are our financial assistance programs. Right now, we actually have four. One is called the Store-Front Grant Program which is a front program of dollar to dollar matching grants. Any business property owner in our service area can apply for a Store-Front Grant. We also have classes, so if
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you are a small business owner, I recommend taking one of our classes. What are you most proud of concerning SAGE? The thing I’m most proud of is that people are starting to look at the East Side as a hot new place. From the outside looking in, it’s no longer “we don’t want to go over there.” I opened a business journal a while back, and there was an article about hot neighborhoods in San Antonio. The writer was talking about the East Side and what a hot place it’s becoming and that it’s the next place to invest your money. I’m really proud about that. It means we’re making a difference and that we’re making a change in the community.
“I think one of the reasons I am successful at what I do is because I believe in telling the truth. Sometimes the truth is not pretty, but people know that if I say it, I absolutely believe it.”
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Protect Your Home With Life Insurance By LE JUENE MONTGOMERY
You and your family have worked hard to purchase your home, any rental properties, or other real estate holdings. You qualified for that mortgage due to your income level, excellent credit rating, and financial history. But what would happen if something unexpected happened to you? Besides the emotional stress, a surviving spouse may experience a significant decrease in household income that could lead to foreclosure. That’s why many banks and mortgage companies encourage homeowners to purchase mortgage life insurance. Essentially, you purchase mortgage life insurance so that in the event of a sudden death, funds are available to meet any outstanding mortgage balance. The type of insurance you purchase can greatly affect your surviving family members’ options. Let’s look at some options. Life Insurance from a Lender vs. an Insurance Company When you purchase insurance from a bank or mortgage company, in most cases you pay the premiums, but the lender receives the proceeds at the insured’s death, and your family receives the deed to the house. However, sometimes surviving families may not want to keep their homes. They may want to move closer to other fam-
ily members or relocate for different reasons like a new job. Personally owned life insurance offers more choices and control because the surviving beneficiaries—not the lender—receive the insurance proceeds. Then they decide what to do with the money―whether it’s paying off the mortgage in one lump sum, continuing to pay it down periodically, or selling the house. And, personally owned life insurance is portable, which means, if you move in a few years, you won’t have to replace your insurance (which could be costly). Furthermore, even after the mortgage is paid, personally owned life insurance can provide other valuable benefits. Make a choice today. Whether you decide to purchase mortgage life insurance through a bank or insurance agent, the key is to be prepared. There is a real chance that someday one person will be completely responsible for your family’s finances. Taking the necessary steps today can ensure your family’s financial future tomorrow.
Helena “Le Juene” Montgomery, is an agent for New York Life Insurance Company proudly serving residents of North Texas. For more information, call 817.878.3282, or send email to LMontgomery@ft.NewYorkLife.com, or visit her website at www.HMontgomery.com. SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM 35
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Katherine Shields FRANCHISE OWNER & OPERATOR MCDONALD’S RESTAURANTS
How long have you been a McDonald’s franchise owner? This is the 35th year. My late husband, Charles, opened the first restaurant in 1981. Was being a McDonald’s franchise owner always an aspiration of yours? No. It was Charles’ dream. It was his vision, not mine. As his wife, I supported him in that. How long were you two married? We had been married for 20 years when he passed, and we had five children. Were you actively involved in the daily operations of the business before his death? In the beginning, I took care of the payroll, accounts payable, and I was in charge of birthday parties and hosted other activities at the restaurant. What was the most challenging aspect of moving forward without him? Moving forward with the business while at the same time having five children and having to start from the very beginning. I had to go through all of the franchise training, and at the same time, I had to continue operating the two existing restaurants. Did you ever have any doubts about keeping the restaurants? When it came time for me to make a decision about the business, I prayed about it, because personally, I wanted to sell the restaurants, but I knew I needed to pray about what to do. The answer that God gave me was to move forward, and my pastor encouraged me to move forward because if God didn’t trust me to do it, he wouldn’t have assigned it to me. Did your faith ever waver? No, not waver. But it wasn’t easy. It would have been a lot more difficult had I not walked in obedience. I’ve always known that my blessing was in my obedience to God. How were you able to get through that difficult time? I can sum that up in one sentence: I never could have made it without the Lord Jesus who sustains me and keeps me every day. You mentioned having to go through the franchise training and having to take care of your children while still operating the two restaurants. When did you find time to deal with your grief? I never had a grieving process. I didn’t have time for me because
I had a 20-month old, a 3rd grader, a 6th grader, a son who was two weeks from graduating from high school, and the oldest daughter had just finished her last final exam of her freshman year at Texas Tech. Charles was on his way to pick her up from Lubbock when the accident happened that killed him. When I received the phone call, I was out running errands. The housekeeper was at the house with my baby, and I had just left a Bible study. I had actually met Charles to say goodbye because he was on his way to a luncheon, and from that luncheon, he was going to get on the road to head to Texas Tech. We met in a parking lot, and he suggested that I attend the luncheon with him. I said, “No, I don’t have time. I’ve got to get these graduation invitations in the mail, and I have errands to run.” So we hugged and kissed and said, “I love you,” and he went to the luncheon. That was about 12:30 p.m. The next phone call I got was at 3:30 p.m. telling me that he had been in an accident. Were you alone? Yes, I was in my car. My daughter, Veronica, who was the 6th grader at the time, called to tell me that someone had just called the house and said that her father was in a car accident, and she gave me the name and the phone number. She had also given them my cell phone number, and by that time, they called and told me that he was in a little town not too far from San Antonio called Brady, and they wanted to airlift him to San Angelo to the Medical Center. The best way for me to get there was to drive because there was not a flight at that time that would take me directly to San Angelo. I turned around and headed home where my baby was with Veronica and the housekeeper, and I made a couple of necessary calls. I got to the house and made sure everything was good, threw a few things in a bag, and I left and got on the road. Even though they told me that the Suburban had flipped over 3 times, and he had been thrown out, I still knew that God was in charge of the situation. I was thinking that I was going to be in San Angelo for two or three days with Charles. I didn’t know exactly where I was going once I got to San Angelo; there was no GPS back then. So I just prayed, “Lord, give me the right exit to take,” and sure enough, the Lord blessed me to take the right exit in San Angelo, and I literally went straight to the hospital. When I got there, I told the hospital staff who I was SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM 37
and why I was there. They wanted to seat me in a little room and wanted to know if I was by myself and if anyone else was coming after me. I told them that a friend of ours was coming. Then someone came in and asked if I would like to have the priest come in and talk to me. I said, “No. I don’t want to see a priest. I just need to see my husband.” Then the doctor came in and was talking to me, and I asked, “Will you please just let me see my husband because I don’t know when our friend is going to be here. It may be quite a while.” And then he just said, “Well, your husband is dead.” Just like that? Just like that. And I asked again, “Can I see him?” and he said they would have to get some tubes out of him and then they would let me see him, and someone came and took me to see him. I waited until our friend, Dr. Lanier Byrd, got to the hospital to leave. His wife, my good friend, Debra had already called to let him know that Charles had passed. So we left San Angelo and drove on to Lubbock so I could tell my daughter what happened. Lanier was in his truck, so he was able to bring all of her stuff back since that was the end of the school year. I went to my daughter’s dorm and told her, and we went and checked into a hotel and then headed back to San Antonio the next day. Who was your immediate support system? I didn’t have family in San Antonio, so it was my church family and the McDonald’s family. Their support was just wonderful. I know you had to keep going and there was so much you had to do including making sure your children were okay. Did you ever feel like what happened wasn’t real? Was there a point at which you felt like reality had set in? Reality was always with me. There were people who thought I was in shock and that I needed medication because I was still standing and doing what I had to do. Was there a life lesson in all that you went through? Well, the very last thing that I had said to Charles was, “I will always tell you I love you because tomorrow is not promised.” I would always tell him that. Sometimes as business owners or career partners you have to be so focused and so disciplined when you’re striving to move forward, and a lot of times there is a great sacrifice that goes with that. There were a lot of times that maybe he didn’t make a baseball game or a soccer game, and I’d say, “The golden arches are going to glow with you or without you,” and I’ve lived to see that. So no matter what needs to be done, I make sure that I always remind myself that I am not all things to all people, and the arches will glow with me or without me. So there were several lessons in this situation. One lesson I learned is that it’s not about me. That’s why I said that I didn’t have time to grieve. I had to keep going. First of all, there were my children, and the house that I live in now was under construction; it was halfway finished at the time. Another lesson that I learned was to just move forward and to trust God. You can only live one day at a time. When I decided to move forward with McDonald’s, I knew it was a platform for ministry because the most valuable thing that I can ever share with anybody is my testimony. Jesus saves. Jesus heals. Jesus keeps you, and nobody can open a door like He can. You now own four McDonald restaurants? Yes. Charles built the first two, and then the following year after his death in 1996, I built a third location. I had the two restaurants that he built in 81’ and 87’ torn down and totally rebuilt. I also had the third restaurant that I had built in 1996 torn down and rebuilt. 38 SUMMER 2016 • WWW.IMAGEMAGAZINETX.COM
The fourth restaurant was somewhat of a surprise. When the site was identified as a site where a McDonald’s was going to be built, I expressed my interest, and that location was awarded to me. We opened up on December 30th of last year. What do you attribute your continued success to? I’ve been really blessed way above my expectations. Everything that I have truly came from God. The opportunities that I’ve been given, the doors that have been opened, the help that I’ve received, the many resources and the support that I’ve been given—it’s been outstanding. I have not accomplished success alone. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded with so many people to help me move forward, and I am so grateful and so thankful to them. What is your life’s motto? The choices you make today, have consequences tomorrow. What are your best traits? I can think on my feet in times of stress and pressure, and quitting is never an option. My mother was strong. If there was an emergency at home, she didn’t panic; she took care of it. I’m not a person that really panics either. If there’s something that needs to be done, I’ve been blessed with that gift to be able to move forward, even in an emergency situation. At what point did you decide you were ready for remarriage? Well, Charles was killed in May of 1995, and I was a widow for 6 years. I remarried in June of 2001. The man that I married, James Berry, was not someone that I didn’t already know. We are actually from the same hometown—Henderson, in East Texas. One of his sisters was married to my middle brother until he had a massive heart attack when he was 42. James and I were always just friends. We had dinner together one day and started talking, and it ended up in marriage. Is there anything else you would like to share? Yes. There is a scripture and there is a song. The song is, I’ve Never Lost My Praise by Tramaine Hawkins. Through it all, I never lost my praise. My scripture is Psalm 27:13, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And the second scripture is Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good. A stronghold in the day of trouble and he knoweth them that trust in Him.” I thank God that I had a prayer life and that I already had my own personal relationship with Him because it was the Lord who kept me through all of that. That’s my testimony.
Reflections On Running My Business While Dealing With The Impacts Of Racial Trauma By T. MAX MCMILLAN
I’m Black. I’m an Entrepreneur. I’m Woke. And My GOD, I’m Tired.
My ‘Things To Do’ List (or as I like to call it: ‘The Entrepreneur’s Markings of Simultaneous Eternal Hopefulness and Continuous Reminders of Unattained Actualization’) looks like this:
Update and implement a (new) marketing plan for my business.
Source new clients for my business. Perform the mundane yet wholly necessary tasks of business administration and management that are a large part of a bankruptcy and/or prison avoidance initiative that I have adopted rather fervently. Service existing clients of my business (I would love to spend all of my professional time solely in this area, providing incredible service to my awesome clients and doing nothing else, but alas, to such a lauded and privileged destination I have not yet reached). Devise a coping strategy that helps me contend with the effects of racial trauma while hiding behind a mask that belies racial neutrality and sociopolitical obliviousness.
OK, well, that last one may not be something that I have actually written down, but it is definitely a reality in my world. I’m assuming you know that race based traumatic stress is real and potentially devastating and similar to PTSD symptoms, does not require first person experience to be veritably life altering, if not downright debilitating. From there it’s not a great stretch to understand that contending with it while being the consummate professional can be more than a little challenging.
But when you’re the business brand, this can be even more draining. If you have employees, you set the tone for the business environment, their interactions with their colleagues, and their interactions with your all too precious clients. For many entrepreneurs, you can’t take the day off. And when there is no one to ‘hand off to’ because you are overwhelmed, emotionally spent, or handling questions from your kids that range from “Why is the sky blue, Mommy?” to “Why do cops hate black people, Mommy?”, a different set of skills must be brought to bear. Those skills are seemingly infinite and veritably interminable—assets of a well-honed professional acumen steeped in a deep understanding of emotional intelligence and industrial organizational psychology. Those skills are: Well, I mean, they are...... That is, you have to understand...... From a purely academic standpoint, the…... SIGH. Truth be told, I got nothing. I mean sure, I can devise some thoughts based on my training and professional experience, but honestly, I see a problem with formulating coping mechanisms for conditions that are summarily unacceptable, and that are overtly unhealthy and possibly detrimental. Imagine someone calling an emergency hotline and telling the dispatcher that they honestly believed they were about to be the victim of a brutal assault that could quite possibly result in death. In addition to seeing who they believed to be their attacker on a regular basis, virtually everyone in a position to do something about the impending danger, was obstinately adamant in their denial of the threat, and seemed more focused on telling them why they shouldn’t acknowledge the threat than doing anything to eliminate the threat. Now, if you were that hotline dispatcher, wouldn’t you kind of feel complicit with the presumed attacker if your response was to suggest to the caller strategies on how they should hold their bodies as they were assaulted as opposed to helping them get away from the danger? Yeah, me too. So, I have no deep and profound strategies to help you normalize the crazy. But I do have a few suggestions based on what I do in my own “double consciousness” life as a black entrepreneur. 1. REMEMBER THAT ENTREPRENEUR ≠ ROBOT. It is ok to have emotions. It is ok to be disturbed by what’s happening to people that look like you—that very well could be you. As a matter of fact, when your employees and colleagues see you express emotions other than anger, it humanizes you and makes you more relatable. I am not suggesting a full psychotic break in a meeting, but don’t feel compelled to hold your tongue while your sanity slips away. Find time in the day to commiserate with people “who get it” to stave off feelings of isolation, helplessness, and hopelessness.
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A PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE
THE MADNESS! By DR. TREVOR ALEXANDER
man in his bad condition, and they passed by him on the other side of the street— indicating that they wanted nothing to do with his situation. A Samaritan came by, saw the man, stopped, and rendered aid.
On July 7, 2016, I went to sleep with a very heavy heart. I found myself with tears flowing and trying to make sense of all the needless killings. In the past few days, we have seen the videos of the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. On July 7th, in Dallas, 5 police officers were killed and 9 others wounded. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 3 were killed and 3 wounded. The people that lost their lives had families, friends, and people who cared about them. I cannot make sense of any of this. The two questions that keep coming to my mind are: “When will we have enough of all these needless killings?” and “What will be the breaking point for the citizens of the United States of America to wake up and demand action from our elected officials?” As a black man, I am extremely concerned about the social and political climate that I am sensing in our nation. I have heard many of my clergy friends say that these are praying times, and they are right. I believe in prayer 100%. Let us pray for peace, and then, let us work towards peace. Let this be our call to action―a call to come up with solutions. We have been hearing about the problems plaguing our nation long enough. It’s past time for serious dialogue! We need to bring the right people to the table and begin the process of healing and then rebuilding our communities. In the Gospel according to Luke, (Chapter 10:29), Jesus was once asked, “Who is my neighbor?” It was at this point that Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. To summarize the parable, a man was beaten and robbed and left for dead. A priest and a Levite, at two different times, saw the
“By supporting Black Lives Matter, it does not mean that you are anti-police or anti-white; these ideas are not diametrically opposed to each other. It is very possible to support “Blue Lives Matter”, “All Lives Matter,” and still support “Black Lives Matter.” At the end of the parable, Jesus asked the question, “Which one of the three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The lawyer replied, “The one that showed mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” How many more lives will have to be lost for us to stop and render aid, hope, stability, and peace of mind? The anger in many of our communities is real! Perhaps the anger is a call for all of us to take action. I agree wholeheartedly, that “All Lives Matter,” but right now, “Black Lives” are the focus. If you have 10 homes on a block, all homes matter. When there is a fire in one of the homes, the attention goes to the home on fire. Right now, our black homes are on fire! There is a campaign in our nation pushing “All Lives Matter” as a means to stand against the “Black Lives Matter” movement. If people truly believe that “All Lives Matter”, why is it hard to support “Black Lives Matter?” By supporting BLM, it does not mean that you are anti-police or anti-white; these ideas are not diametrically opposed to each other. It is very possible to support “Blue Lives Matter”, “All Lives Matter,” and still support “Black Lives Matter.”
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When listening to the arguments of the “All Lives Matter” folks, I struggle with the whole concept. For example, my wife is a “Breast Cancer Survivor.” When we have gone to “Breast Cancer” functions, I have never seen a sign or anyone stand up in protest saying “All Cancers Matter!” Can we take a moment to sit and listen to each other, understand the real issues and find a common ground? I get it! There is so much tension built up that it is hard to hear one another. This is what Dr. King said about tension: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” A petition has been signed by over 100,000 people and sent to the White House to make BLM a terrorist group. Former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, said that the BLM Movement ignores “black on black crime.” This is a classic move to change the narrative. While “black on black crime” is a serious issue, Giuliani has not mentioned that “white on white crime” is also an issue, but apparently, Mr. Giuliani doesn’t want to deal with that issue. Crime in America is not just a black and white issue, it is an American issue. I find the way that crime is reported in the media particularly interesting. For example, when Travon Martin, Eric Gardner, and Alton Sterling were killed, their criminal records became public knowledge. In the court of public opinion, they were guilty. I have read social media postings where some say, “If people would just respect authority, they would still be alive.” I agree, we should have respect for authority, but I cannot help asking the question, “Does disrespect equal death?” Ponder this for a moment. Why are so many pronounced guilty just because they have a criminal record? A recent CNN guest panelist, retired NYPD Detective Harry Houck said, “Sandra Bland would not have been in police custody if she had not been arrogant from the beginning.” If this is true, when did being arrogant equal being dead?
I know there are some that will read this article and will not fully agree with some of my points, and that is perfectly fine. Prayerfully, we can all agree that the senseless killings, of blacks, whites, and police officers need to stop. If the killings are going to stop, we need solutions to the problems that are plaguing our communities. In her book, It Takes a Church To Raise a Village, Dr. Marva Mitchell raises some very interesting points about the Church and community. In Chapter 2, she states that the Church is too busy hearing the internal cries of the Church and we are not hearing the cries of the village. The village is crying loudly, and we need to hear its cries. We cannot sit back on the sidelines thinking that the problems of the village will go away over time. Dr. Mitchell has issued a call to action by the Church. The village is sick, and we need to be part of the solution. If the madness in our communities is going to stop, the Church must help champion the cause. The BLM Movement and leaders in our communities are all seeking solutions. I believe that Dr. King placed a blueprint on the table for us to at least examine. Dr. King’s solution is what he called, “The Beloved Community.” I would like to explore Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” in our next issue. One thing is clear, we all want an end to all the killings. The madness MUST stop! Dr. Trevor Alexander is the Pastor of True Vine Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas and a Professor of Religion at the University of the Incarnate Word.
(continued from page 39) 2. CONSIDER YOUR WORK AS “PART OF THE GAME.” We all would like to feel that the world could not continue without the work that we do, for want of its life sustaining necessity. But for most of us, we work to make a living. Those dollars are what enable us to make financial choices that reflect our commitments and convictions. Although I know this may not work for everyone, I deliberately and purposely quantify the time I spend with people in my work who are either apathetic or dismissive about ‘the struggle’. I don’t get paid an hourly wage (as an entrepreneur, no such luxuries exist), but as close as I can proximate, I calculate how much money I made, actually or theoretically, by working with that person or withstanding their presence. As often as possible, I contribute that dollar amount directly to causes, people, or organizations specifically engaged in work that would eradicate the causes of race based traumatic stress. If I have to suffer through your willful denial of some of the painful realities of my existence, you are at least going to pay for the work that will dismantle the tower that allows you to exist in an alternate reality without conviction or consequence. 3. CELEBRATE THE GOOD. Living in an environment in which the most fear inducing images of any psychodrama is an almost consistent news story on your timeline or television, with the victim of the violence looking more and more like you and yours, can start to delude you into believing that there must be a rational explanation for the violence visited on these victims. In searching for that “rational explanation” it can be eerily comforting to believe the narrative of “justification by stereotype.” DO NOT DO IT. Seek out ideas, pictures, stories and media that celebrate the greatness of ‘melaninated’ people. 4. REMEMBER YOU HAVE A DEBT TO PAY. There was a time when many that came before me saw what I am seeing and much worse—at times, first hand. They could not write freely about it. They could not own their own businesses and pool their money to develop their own communities and their own people. So while I run my business and dry my tears, know that I will be the best in the marketplace at what I do. It is my legacy to do so. And it is a debt owed to those who came before that died so that I could. I will use my resources for more than myself and my immediate family—for I am only as successful as my most downtrodden brother or sister. There is more than one type of activism. In part, this is mine. T. Max McMillan is the Editor of IMAGE Magazine.
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