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INAUGURAL EDITION Winter Quarter 2018

Cover Photo by Samuel Scheinder



RETHINK RETHINK is a wholly owned subsidiary of Let’s REThink That, LLC.


©2018 Let’s REThink That, Inc. All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be used or reproduced without written permission of the publisher Let’s REThink That, Inc. The views expressed in REThink are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the publication or its staff. Therefore, the publisher or publication assumes no liability or responsibility for any inaccurate, delayed or incomplete information, nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon.



DERRICK TENNIAL, Ed.D. is an educator, entrepreneur, author, minister, and motivational speaker. An educator with over 16 years of experience, Derrick has taught and served as an administrator in Memphis, Tennessee, and metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, he is a motivational speaker and workshop clinician who has presented throughout the United States on topics such as cultural diversity in education, HIV/AIDS and issues of identity and sexuality. He has published six books and contributed to numerous magazines, blogs, and other books. A proud uncle and godfather, Derrick enjoys spending time with family, reading, writing, traveling, and attending cultural events.

EDITOR’S NOTE It gives me great pleasure to present the Inaugural edition of REThink: Your Sociocultural Voice. The word “rethink” means to “think again about something (such as a policy, ideology, or course of actions), especially in order to make change. It is a call to think and then think again about what you believe and perceive. This first edition features the contributions of Let’s REThink That’s authors and poets; however, subsequent editions will feature the work of you. We want to hear your sociocultural voice and invite you to submit your articles, essays, poems, and stories. Contributors for the inaugural editions were simply asked to address any topic of their choosing. The resounding theme that emerged was FREEDOM! We are living in a day in which our “freedom” – our personal liberties are under attack. If we lose our freedom, we lose our voice. This edition is dedicated to FREEDOM in all its beautiful forms. Thank you to the editors and contributors of this inaugural edition for using your gifts and talents to make REThink a reality. I celebrate you and your continued success. I hope that you, the reader, will be uplifted and inspired by the literary works in this edition that hopefully will cause you to REThink – think and then think again about what you believe and perceive.

CONTRIBUTORS JOHN COLLINS is a poet and novelist from Detroit, MI. A decorated U.S. Navy combat veteran, he is currently residing in Atlanta, GA. He enjoys traveling, spending time with family & friends, volunteering, and participating in spoken word events. He is the founder and CEO of John Collins Presents and has authored fours, books: Virgin to the Life, Sounds of Burned Silence, and Poetic Violence, and God Ain’t Call Me Fag. LA TOYA HANKINS is the author of SBF Seeking and K -Rho: The Sweet Taste of Sisterhood. A native of North Carolina, she currently resides in Raleigh. A graduate of East Carolina University, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She is also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and currently serves as the chair of Shades of Pride, a LGBT organization for persons of color based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

CONTRIBUTORS CHRISTINE KELLY WILLIAMS is a wife and mother. She is the owner of a floral design business. Involved in her local church, she serves as a deaconess, Sunday school instructor, and on the board of directors. She enjoys quality time with her family, writing poetry, volunteering, traveling, and serving as her family’s historian. In 2016, Christine published The Kelly Chronicles, a compilation of her family’s history in the Mississippi Delta as told through stories, poems, and pictures. LATANYA MACK, a native of Chicago, IL, resides in Atlanta, GA. As a retiree, she began writing to encourage her family and friends. In turn, they encouraged her to publish her works. Since her first release co-authored with her granddaughter Kenya, Sit, Walk, and Stand in Every Heavenly Blessing, she has published two other books of spiritual poetry and affirmations: I Am…Still Standing and Moving Forward, and Mélange: A Perfect Blend.

CONTRIBUTORS BOBBIE MOORE-HOWARD is a retiree who resides in Decatur, GA. For years, she wrote poems for family gatherings and added words of inspiration in greeting cards to family and friends. In 2016, she published her first book, Dreams Create Endless Possibilities, a book of poetry, prose, and affirmations about renewing the mind, dreaming again for purpose and destiny, and discovering the power within to live a more triumphant life. JELIYA REIGN is a poet from Atlanta, GA. She found her passion in written expression. Her desire is to encourage and inspire others. Her trilogy of poetry, The JMNI Project, (Jeliya Reign, Queen’s Throne, and Rose-Colored Glasses) presents her perspective of life, love, intimacy, and ecstasy.

CONTRIBUTORS JOHN TRIMBLE is a graduate of Detroit’s Cass Technical High School. He has a keen interest in uplifting the community. Whether it is the LGBTQ community or the community at large, John has made it part of his life’s mission to do whatever he can, whenever he can to be of service to humanity. His mantra for his life is a quote by Audre Lorde: “Service is the rent you pay for your space on earth.” KENNY YARBROUGH, Th.D. is a nationwide clinician and speaker. He is a certified diversity professional and travels assisting colleges and universities with diversity and inclusion needs. Currently pursuing a second doctorate in higher education leadership, his research interests include the Intersectionality of African American college students. Kenny enjoys travel, exercising, and spending time with family. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and serves on numerous civic and religious boards of directors. He resides in Hendersonville, TN. 7

LET FREEDOM RING LATANYA MACK Let Freedom Ring My Country Tis of Thee I don’t feel Free Listen to my cry and plea All Creation is necessary Let Freedom Ring This is my Season to be If I stand or bend a knee Blame can’t be all on me Truth shares responsibility Let Freedom Ring How did cracks come to be? In the Bell of Liberty Start talking Unity And embrace possibilities To Thee I Sing

If I stand or take a knee Why so much controversy Truth in Love is the key For Universal Harmony And all that it brings Does Hatred make you Free To Lie and oppress me If different is all you see Love is the remedy That’s the Real Thing The real thing Oh Yeah To Thee I Sing Let Freedom Ring Let Freedom Ring!!! To Thee I say--Let Freedom ring today All over the USA -And let Love Reign 9




Just exactly what is “Black Lives Matters?” Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a grassroots effort that grew out of the outrage of the acquittal of George Zimmerman of the death of Black teen Trayvon Martin. Starting as a mere hashtag, it gained momentum after the deaths of Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Mya Hall, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, John Crawford, III, and Eric Garner. Although there is an official website that proclaims that BLM is “not a moment, [but] a movement,” there appears to be no formal organization. Nevertheless, in five short years, it has grown to include 40 independent chapters and participated in over 1,000 protests and demonstrations nationwide. While BLM effective in bringing attention to police brutality and problems within our justice system, there are some things that it should be conscious of as it seeks to become an effective, long-term organization. Currently, BLM is a confederacy – a decentralized network of chapters - acting independently. The lack 11

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of a formal, legal structure gives the appearance of chaos and promotes Fox News correspondent Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s misconception the organization is a “hate group.” Without structure, the establishment will only see BLM as a mere moment, not a movement, not a force to be reckoned with, and certainly not a long-term threat. Secondly, BLM should be mindful “not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” BLM is not the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Middle-class values, loyalty to the Democratic Party, and working within the “system” do not appear to be their strategy for advancing the cause. However, these Civil Rights Movement tactics painted a vivid picture in the media, so the world could see American oppression and force systematic changes. With social media, imagine how much more effective BLM could be by adopting and adapting principles from the Civil Rights Movement. If it worked once, it could work again. Thirdly, BLM should seek to bridge the generational gap with Civil Rights Movement pioneers. There is reported “bad blood” between the organization and some Civil Rights leaders. However, now is the time to come together with one agenda for the good of all Black people. There are pressing issues that need our immediate attention (such as constant changes to the Voting Rights Act and gerrymandering) 12

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that threaten the progress we have made. In words of songwriter India Arie, “If old people would talk to young people, it would make us a better people all around.” Lastly, BLM must include all black lives. The chief organizer of the March on Washington in 1963 was Civil Rights activist Bayard Rustin, a Black gay man; however, the Movement did not include a strategic plan for the Black LGBTQ+ community. Although understandable for that era, times have changed. The LGBTQ+ community is increasingly strong and active with a voice that deserves to be heard. Have the oppressed become the oppressors? It was only a little more than 50 short years ago that Blacks were denied basic civil liberties that many now want to deny the Black gay community. There must be a strategic plan for the Black LGBTQ+ community within and not separate from the overall agenda of BLM. BLM is fresh, new energy that has galvanized Blacks in a way not seen since the Civil Rights Movement to effect systematic change once again. However, it will never happen if BLM remains a loose network of independent chapters without a common vision – a confederacy – never to rise again just like the last one…a moment, but never a movement.





Question: Is it working for You? In this Arena such a multitude of variables the question is where do I begin? Breaking news, current and rapid changes, variety of events happening from moment to moment on the news, especially CNN. The intensity and tenacity of replacing and repealing of Obama Care. The separation in the republican party, definitely no true togetherness there.

The party had seven long years, meaning 84 months to come up with a confirmed, documented and beneficial workable Health Care Plan. The voting took not 1 but 4 times with the same results (No) especially having Senator John McCain (R) taking that notable and powerful stand. Finally, our President signed an Executive Order in October, to override Congress to dissemble Obama Care the only way he could. 15

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Just simply strategically trying to undue everything Former President Barack Obama has accomplished as only he felt he should. Our President acts as if he’s still navigating through a popular Reality Show. If you do not agree totally with him or feeding his enlarged Ego or getting on board with his plan, you must absolutely, positively go. There is much conflict and discord in the daily routine of Trump White House. You are leaking information because you’re too scared to speak out boldly or

you are talking among yourselves being quiet as a mouse. He just can’t seem to stick to the script and stay on the existing subject. If you’re not with him totally, without reservations, you’re considered a reject. Former President Obama, compassionate, sensitive and holds value on life. President Donald Trump shows delayed response and causes so much strife. Our Former President did strive to do and say peaceably the right thing. While our current strives to simply want to be liked and praised in everything. 16

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So much confusion and several losses in the Presidential Cabinet Members. There were several fired or were compelled to resign, too many to remember. The Republican and Democratic Parties

need to re-assemble themselves and get back to the issue at hand (The People) of the United States of America. My question still remains for every concerned citizen – (Is It Working for You?)




“Privilege” impacts all aspects of our society, yet many people are unaware of it including the privileged. Just exactly what is “privilege?” Privilege “allows people to assume a certain level of acceptance, inclusion, and respect in the world, to operate within a relatively wide comfort zone. Privilege increases the odds of having things your own way, of being able to set the agenda in a social situation and determine the rules and standards and how they’re applied…Privilege means being able to decide who gets taken seriously, who receives attention, who is accountable to whom and for what. Privilege grants a presumption of superiority and social permission to act on that presumption without having to worry about being challenged” (Rothenberg, 2008, p. 117). With the election of “45,” privilege has taken center stage in America. Since “45” entered the political arena, he has made all sorts of outlandish, degrading, demeaning, and stereotypical comments about women, the disabled, Latino immigrants, and the Muslim community without the fear of consequences or repercussions. He called the white supremacists in the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally “good people,” he offended the widow of Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, 19

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he made a racist comment when honoring Navajo World War II veterans, and the list goes on and on and on. Although his brazen comments have made national and international headlines, “45” (and his children) continue to exacerbate the problem of privilege already prevalent in American society. How so? “45’s” brashness has awakened other members of the dominant culture with much less or no socioeconomic power who yet feel empowered to say and do whatever they feel. Guest moderators Lt. Col Ralph Peters referred to former President Obama as a “total p***y” and Stacey Dash, who suffers from cultural amnesia, stated that the former President “doesn’t give a sh*t about terrorism.” Also, Texas Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that black students do not belong at elite colleges, but at slower track schools during the oral arguments for Fisher v. University of Texas. In a case in which Abby Fisher is suing the University of Texas because she believes that the university denied admission to her in favor of a minority (a violation under the Fourteenth Amendment). According to the university, Fisher did not have the grades nor the test scores to meet admission requirements, yet from her place of privilege, she feels that it was her right to be admitted. Two defendants only received probation after brutally attacking a male gay couple in Philadelphia. This was a clear-cut case of gay bashing – a hate crime by federal definition, yet they only received probation allegedly at the victims’ prompting. 20

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Why was this gay bashing not classified as a hate crime? If so, when do victims have a say so in the prosecution of a federal crime? The assertion of privilege continues to worsen each day that “45” is in office and his contemporaries like defeated evangelical Alabama Judge Roy Moore who basically stated that America was at its best before the Civil War, former cabinet advisor Steven Bannon who continues to push an alt-right agenda after being ousted from the White House, former sheriff and Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Arizona Joe Arpaio who racially profiled Hispanic immigrants, and the “privileged poor” who champion a leader that (perhaps) places them in the same category as people of color continue to push his “Make America White Again,” “Make America Hate Again,” “Make America Great Again” agenda. It is imperative that we galvanize greater than we did in 2008 to elect President Obama to take down this racist, sexist, xenophobic administration; representative by representative, senator by senator, governor by governor until the Republication party collapses under the wait and authority of its own bigotry. “45” and his supporters see nothing wrong with their ideology, psychology, or theology. After all, the privileged are most often unaware of their privilege. Reference: Rothenberg, P.S. (2008). White privilege: Essential readings on the other side of racism (3rd ed.) New York: Worth Publishers.





FREE ME that what you're saying? Well in reality you are free. Just get unstuck Unstuck Release yourself from generational curses that has held you captive.

limitations that our ancestors endured Get unstuck Release your body from the captivity of sexual servitude.

Unstuck explode and free yourself from the mental hold of slavery.

Oh, my strong man and woman you are your own individual. Your body is a temple designed by the Almighty God. It is to be honored and loved gently. Feed it well and nourish your mind and spirit daily with positive energy. Get unstuck Get unstuck

You are no longer bound by the restrictions and

Unplug the negative information that has been pumped into your

Unchain, undo the past hurts. Unstuck what he did to you. Unstuck what she did to you. Unstuck what they did to you.


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brain designed to tear down the stronghold of unity and family that has always kept us strong as a people. Get unstuck I love you more than you love yourself Get unstuck I see more good in you then you see in yourself Get unstuck

So, what do you mean when you say you want to be free? In reality you are free. In a world where 1 can do and be anything you want to be. Get unstuck




Feminist Intersectionalism Before I get too deep into this piece, I have to at the very least put out a disclaimer… I am a FEMINIST one who’s life exists at the three-way intersection of BLACK and GAY and MAN streets situated firmly between masculine

and femininity. You see, I am the FIRST CHILD of my mother who is the FIRST CHILD of my grandmother who is the FIRST CHILD of my great grandmother who is the FIRST FEMALE child of my great-great grandmother! Did you catch it? NO? 27

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Well… Catch this. I am the FIRST MALE CHILD of my matriarchal line in four generations. I have the great fortune the great privilege the great honor to be able to access the great power that comes from my lineage and – quite frankly – its linkage to the feminine. I contend that had I been born female like all of the

FIRSTS before me I would still have this same personality still been imbued with the same sensibilities and ideologies. Still been influenced by the same teachings that these elder women carefully sowed into the fabric of my being. I am a same gender loving man whose lens has been defined by and refined by and 28

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identifies with the lives and experiences of the women who raised me I’ve been able to see the beauty and the curse of girlhood the struggle and the resiliency it takes to get to womanhood. I dig the strength and the power and the expression and performance of sistah-hood. I have seen what women -

cis women and trans women have had to do to endure and just to live through in order to navigate, and exist in a world where men, patriarchy and male privilege are consistently and systematically trying to dismantle you and destroy you and disembody you and reduce you to what’s between 29

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your legs or not. How structures and laws and policies are built to ignore hide and side step the fact that womanhood, the feminine and feminine energy are the glue that holds this world together. And I salute that! I am A FEMINIST who is the FIRST CHILD of my mother

who is the FIRST CHILD of my grandmother who is the FIRST CHILD of my great grandmother who is the FIRST FEMALE child of my great-great grandmother! I am the FIRST MALE CHILD of my matriarchal line in four generations who loves honors and respects his feminist intersections!





We know that the world is round. Off the earth we don’t fall down. We breathe air we cannot see. Sometimes we wonder how can this be? We feel the wind as it blows. Where it comes from, nobody knows. The moon rules the sky at night. After it’s full, it gives great light. All bodies of water flow the same way. Scientists cannot explain it until this day. The water flows daily into the Gulf of Mexico.

What direction to take, how does it know? The sun never rise in the same place each day. When in our favorite spot, we wish it could stay. The stars shine so beautiful at night. Observe them closely, they move from left to right. Sometimes clouds change from light to dark before a rain. You can pass through them in an airplane. When it hails, frozen balls of ice falls from the sky.


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How can water freeze in hot weather, we don’t know why? There is an unlimited amount of oil and gas until it’s an overflow. Man pretends there is a shortage, to increase prices and charge you more. I am so glad man cannot control the air we breathe. We would be charged for every breath out of financial greed. For drinking water, we have to pay a fee.

That’s one resource God gave us for free. There are so many evil thoughts in men heart. They cannot perform them because there is a God. God see and know everything we do. Whatever problems you have, he will see you through. I know and believe within my heart, These marvelous things happened because there is a God.


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So, you seriously wonder why I won’t get tested. Me? The offspring of the Uber black man you created in a barn, who you later turned into your new lab experiment when you bastards took us off the auction block and bred the best with the best letting the rest die off slow leaving behind me, the ancestral jewel of a study you created in a plantation daydream, prepping me with all types of Tuskegee project experiments to treat me and teach me that even though I feel fine, no this is what you have black man, syphilis. I can give you these drugs the pharmaceutical company is paying me a stipend to push. Oh yeah, see that label? It just says that it may impair your vision, but it’s safe. How often do you blacks use your eyes to see or even read between the lines anyway? So yeah, it just tells you what it is and it’s safe to take two, three, maybe four times a day. You decide. But between you and I, five will make you simply go away, I mean…relieve your symptoms any day. I know this little bug you pushed in our veins, was something arranged. But you weren’t counting on them dirty white boys who like to use black boys like me for 37

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sexual kinks and anal Olympics like I’m some sort of sport. And since I present clean cut, my brothas assume persuasion is what I prefer because I’m not cussing or caressing my Mandingo prowess as a sign of manhood unaware of or so I’ve been told it’s a mole made to dig through a reincarnation of mother Earth to plant seeds in the she who possesses the rib that was taken from me supposedly. Ain’t nobody I know got AIDS for real! It’s a conspiracy like the one made to cheapen my worth. Ripped from the safety of black mothers. Infusing infant black baby boys with immunizations made to corrupt and to sterilize me before I know what the words, uses, my, dick, means. Death sped up within the first few minutes of consuming birth air. But where there is a will, there is a black gay, since you want to be greedy thinking I’m needy while you play that way in your milky white way of a world, I’ll pass on your HIV test and stay abstinent until our militant black doctors get back into medicines action packed war again. I don’t trust that pasty-faced fool named America. When I know you been injecting us with shit for documented years, and that little piece of paper brings me fear because how can I know for certain if you didn’t stick me with the inconspicuous colored peoples testing needle instead of the picture-perfect pig-mentally challenged people’s version of the same? That’s reason enough not to get tested! 38

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Those bastards don’t know what it’s like as a card carrying monitored piece of male, stamped black, trying not to go postal in a world that engineered me to be great but tells me to deny and denounce my abilities as frailty or no big deal unless you can profit from a jump shot thrill, when on the real, they gotta take a pill or take a 5-hour swig to get a steal of what I can do with all of my natural ability. Microwave they skin to an unconvincing cancerous crisp to attempt and try to obtain this perfect melanin sun kissed tone, a trend like they said hip-hop was, professing our skin to be sin exploiting what’s taking place now, chanting and prophesying fuck the police oKKK! Strong arming, and watering down, and defiling, and stifling, and censoring our voices with their trifling draw four nigger UNO cards changing the color to Washington’s insatiable six by two-inch green cock spewing semen in the face of colored boys, for trained coins mere tokens sent out West assimilating to a promise told by a perverted little mouse coonin’ in black face like Rachel Dolezal. Fuck the fantasy of peculiar law and order as these fools look like they are preparing for the race war the grand wizard spoke of, but in the name of serving and protecting. It’s time out for foolishness in a world that’s been done and through with us blacks throwing us out on our backs with tracks in our arms from hypodermic needles since way back on the street and the farm.


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But it always backfires; because there are no more bugs they can trust. Ebola made that a fact. So as much as I long for, and enjoy the spirit, walk, talk, touch, love, smell, stroke, brain, hustle, and company of a black man, the importance of my health makes me abstain so I don’t have to deal with the scrutiny of watching your every move, answering your questions about every dude, cotton tip applicators without the goo, because my logical side is just that close to saying fuck your test too! If you lied and told me I had bad blood back in the day, how I know you’re not the cause, slipping me a mickey? So in the midst of showers and blood baths of red pigment stained black skin in these white streets of America’s man made epidemic, I hope that answered your question about why I ain’t getting no AIDS test…




Every so often, I catch what could have been my life out the corner of my eye. What if NC Agricultural and Technical State University had freshman girl housing and I didn’t end up attending East Carolina University. Would my life had been so different if I accepted that job offer in Texas in 2005 when it seems the universe aligned to give me a way out of a failing relationship? Maybe I should have accepted the corporate relocation offer and moved to St. Louis as part of the merger deal. Could have, should have, would have- if they were bricks, I would have a mansion. Instead, I ended up going to a college where a freshman indiscretion tainted my name among certain groups long after I received my degree. I stayed in a romantic situation that ended up with me enduring a humiliating set of circumstances so profound it caused me to experience panic attacks in public places. Because I chose not to take the relocation offer, I spent months scrambling to find a job before it was time to turn off the lights at a place on the losing end of a corporate buyout.


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Still when I look clearly at my life, I realize it is possibly better than what it would have been. I received a great education at East Carolina for not too shabby of a price. Twenty years after graduation, my alma mater showed me love on the publication of my second book

Would I have experienced the same as an Aggie? The relationship that had its hellish moments also included sweet touches. Hindsight being better than laser eye surgery, I know had I moved to Texas I probably would have found myself in a similar situation because I had not learned to value and love myself as I did others. Even though it was stressful toward the end, I did find another job before my old job ended. In fact, I walked out of my old job on March 31st in Charlotte and walked into my new job in Raleigh on April 1st. Seven years later, my current gig allows me the freedom to take care of family matters, the security of a steady paycheck, and frankly no one gets days off like a government worker. I know regret is something we should not subscribe to in life. I grew up in the Baptist faith hearing the story of Lot’s wife. She looked back when fleeing Sodom with her family despite angels telling them to not cast their gaze upon where they left. Her failure to cooperate with the directive resulted in her becoming a pillar of salt. In terms of Biblical role models, the unnamed matriarch isn’t the best to emulate. I have to focus on the fact the reason 44

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Lot’s Wife has no name is that her display of regret, or looking back, serves no real purpose. If it did, we would honor her by evoking her name. On a conscious level, I know looking back and wondering what could have been is pointless. I am not Cher, I can’t turn back time. Still, sometimes my mind wanders and wonders. Whenever my mind turns to what could have been, I drift along for a minute and imagine; then I focus on the here and now. The choices I made in life, fair or foul, brought me to this point. College educated, employed, and engaged to a wonderful woman and in the community around me. Forty-five years after touching down in North Carolina in my mother’s arms, I am still a North Carolina resident. The choices I could have made but didn’t put me in the position to be a published author, meet people who opened my mind to so many different ways of seeing life, and grow as a person. My missteps made me the woman I am, and I have no choice but to move forward along the path set before me. There will always be things in my peripheral to cause me a wee bit of distraction. That’s okay just as long as I don’t forget I have more miles to go.



LEARNING TO UNLEARN KENNY E. YARBROUGH, TH.D. Have you ever sat in front of a computer, knowing you need to compose something, and the words just won’t come? What is the message? What is preventing the creativity that needs to take place? I have been pondering and reflecting a lot lately. I’m on the eve of my 43rd birthday and I must admit, this is not where I envisioned myself. Dr. Kimberle Williams Crenshaw originated a theory concerning social identities called Intersectionality. As an African-American Man, I have a multitude of social identities. I am a son, a brother, a surrogate father, a minister, an educator, a friend and the list goes on and on. Because of these various social identities, I have experience tremendous pain at various points of my life. I always felt I was not a complete man because I never had male validation. I didn’t have a father to model male behavior in front of me. Even after I joined a fraternity, I still was craving validation of my maleness and manhood. As so many men of my age range, and those behind us, we never had the sociocultural scripts that taught us what maleness entailed (Harris & Barone, 2011). These social identities were always in conflict with each other until age 20. A friend of mine would always marvel that I knew exactly who I was and how I wanted to live my life early 47

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while many of my friends struggled to find themselves. I had no choice. I had to learn to be me; everyone else was taken. Those various social identities had intersected into a human who needed to figure out life on his own terms. Nevertheless, that discovery took a long time to solidify. I can attribute my interesting journey to several facets of my life. I have never met another person like me. I have five academic degrees. In one of my degree programs (MBA), I took a course called Organizational Development. While in this class, I learned about a very interesting psychological theory called Locus of Control. Within this theory, there are two fields, Internal and External. Internal Locus of Control denotes that the individual is in control and they control what happens to them in their life. Conversely, External Locus of Control depicts that there are outside forces beyond a person’s control that happen to you that shapes your life. When we were studying this, something literally leaped in me. Here is why. I am a Christian. I mean a real Christian. I mean the type that was born in church. When the doors were opened, I was there. Not only was this the way I was raised, but I found a great love for the Church. But the people that attend the Church, not so much. In my life, I was always taught that God orders our steps. Psalms 37:23 states, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the 48

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Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” But after reading this, I had to take some ownership of the happens of my life. Yes, there were several things that happened to me that made me the way that I am. There were several things out of my control. But there were several things within the scope of my own power that I had attributed that I was powerless to change, but I could have. I couldn’t help being born Black in a low socio-economical location. I couldn’t help having a father who abandoned me, a grandfather who abused me, a cousin who molested me, or being a sickly child. My only escape was the church. I felt safe there. I felt protected there. But as horrible as it may sound, I had to learn how to live outside of the church. That in itself was a daunting task. With this new secular revelation, I had to start taking ownership of the mistakes and mishaps I allowed to happen in my life. Everything that happened wasn’t Divine Providence or “the devil”, there were some things, I did on my own. And some of those bad choices, lead to some hard to swallow consequences. Sitting in that class, listening to my professor lecture on this subject caused me to “MAN UP.” While I exceled in a plethora of areas, I was still very regressed in others. In my early 20s, life was so promising. I had that wideeyed and bushy tailed optimism of life. In my mid-40s, I’m learning to look at life differently. I’m more pragmatic and sensible. In my 20s, I felt that at this age, I would be 49

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married, have kids, and be a renowned educator and preacher. I would have made my mother and grandmother proud. However, life happened. I put so much pressure on myself to succeed and to achieve because I felt I had to do so. I was the good kid growing up. I was the model kid, but I had another side, a repressed side that would rear its head until I went to college and then in my late 20s. I was so used to being perfect; I forgot to develop coping skills for the adversities that this life will bring you. It took my having to hit emotional rock bottom to have an open and honest conversation with myself about who I would be. Dealing with the failures of life and learning how to rebound from life’s hardships taught me a valuable lesson. That lesson was, “I can get over anything and anybody,” a skill that I had to employ more times that I care to remember. Being a single person, living in a world where being single is not the norm for my age, has caused a different set of complexities. I’ve never been married, and I do not have any biological children. While life has brought the joys of fatherhood through other means, I do not have a physical seed that is my own. While a great number of my friends got married (and divorced), cohabitated with their partners, I always felt left behind. I often have asked myself the question, “What’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?”


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To complicate matters further, the older you get, the stranger it becomes. People start looking at you differently. What do you do? There is not a handbook for this? And when you don’t have the skills, training and reserve to draw from, it can really make a mental impact on you. It’s easy to blame your upbringing. I didn’t have this, or I didn’t have that, but what I learned to do is focus on the Locus of Control. What is it that I can change? What is it that I can fix? I was recently depressed (yes, I admit it; I was depressed) because I had a very promising relationship that I thought would end in marriage. After you hit a certain age, dating is not for fun anymore. I honestly didn’t see it coming. I thought we were mutually on the same page. Then, trying to advance in my career, I went on several senior level interviews. In my mind thinking, I’m about to be in my sweet spot. Life was looking good. Of all the interviews, I got ZERO offers. Add to that, my current employment shifted. Numerous changes occurred, and I had no control of it. I was spent and exhausted. I had no more fight left in me. I didn’t want to quit; I wanted to vacate. I wanted to leave my existence because in my mind I had failed. I do not do well with failure because it causes me look at the deficiencies in my life. I felt that everything was my fault. I cried for two months straight, every night.


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Then again, the same theory came back to me - the Locus of Control. What can you fix? What can you work on? Slowly, I started re-examining some things about my life. I had to learn, and I am still learning, that there is not a solution to some things you learn and simply do. One of my favorite movies is the Star Wars series. Master Yoda is my favorite character of all time. In the movie, The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says these words to Luke Skywalker: “Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned. Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” I had to learn that even in my Locus of Control with my spiritual training and with my vast education, there are some things, mentally, I have to unlearn. I had to recreate some definitions internally, and with areas that I am unfamiliar with, it’s a daily struggle. However, I’m doing it. One of the most challenging things I had to face in being single at 43 is going to dinner and the movies alone. Historically, I was always embarrassed. I literally thought people were talking about me and wondering, “Why is this guy eating alone?” I had to learn to get over myself in that area. I must eat. I like movies. Should I let my own ego and perceptions of others hinder my ability to enjoy the films I want to see or the food I like because I’m going


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unaccompanied? While it sounds trivial, there are plenty of people who feel the same way. Secondly, I am learning how to redefine the person I am in my singleness at 43. I am not dating. Does that mean my self-worth should be affected? While the obvious answer is no, it’s amazing how the lack of companionship causes some people to lessen their own personhood. I struggle with this; however, I will not give into the toxicity of self-loathing. I had to reconnect with the 20-year-old who knew exactly who he was and how he wanted to live his life. As I circle back, I realize life robbed me of my vigor. Challenges robbed me of my optimism. That guy believed that what he wanted he could attain. Somewhere along the way, I traded the perception of others of my own success as validation of my own personhood. Instead of being angry, that life hasn’t turned out like I thought or depressed that I do not have some of the things I wanted, I had to reorient my perspective. I continually remind myself that although things may not be as you liked or imagined, life is good. It is so very tempting to be angry or upset because you do not have what you want and desire. It is so easy to be angry and upset with life and all that it holds when it does not yield what we want it to. Life will be life. It has no rules of fairness. What we can do is learn how to change our perspective. I have heard that so much, but it has taken 53

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this long in my life for it to really sink in and make sense to me. It truly is how we interpret and evaluate our own happiness. No one ever said life was simple or easy. We will all experience the disappointments and let downs of life. There are times life really hurts; however, this one thing is true. If you are feeling pain, you are living. No one in the cemetery feels anything. You are living. You have another opportunity to have happiness. You have more time to be fulfilled. It doesn’t matter if you are looking to change your career, recovering from a divorce, grieving the passing of a loved one, whatever your down moment is, one thing is for certain. It is temporal. You must change your mind-set. It is challenging. Some days are easier than others, but you must be consistent. You must be relentless. Intentionality must be your friend. You must will yourself to be happy. You must will yourself out that place of hurt. You truly have the power to do it. What does Chapter 43 look like for me? I have no idea, but for the first time in a very long time I’m excited. I honestly in this moment can say I am here for all the possibilities this new year will afford me. I am a movie fanatic. There is a line from the movie Auntie Mame that gives me hope and encouragement. “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” Don’t starve with what you can eat.


RETHINK: YOUR SOCIOCULTURAL VOICE REThink: Your Sociocultural Voice is a literary journal that focuses on current social and cultural issues. This publication seeks to be an all inclusive voice that adds counter stories to existing narratives. Each edition will challenge you, the reader, to REThink: think and then think again about what you perceive and what you believe.

Add your voice to the discussion by submitting an article, essay, poem, or story for possible publication. Please visit our website ( for submission criteria.

REThink: Your Sociocultural Voice - Issue 1  
REThink: Your Sociocultural Voice - Issue 1  

REThink: Your Sociocultural Voice is a literary journal that focuses on current social and cultural issues. This publication seeks t...