Whether newly discovered or rekindled, there is no feeling in the world like pure passion coursing through our veins. It erupts at our core and allows us to be free and uninhibited. Bare Necessities: Sensuous Tales of Passion is a collection of short erotic stories that explore passions that are buried deep in the subconscious as well as those that lie just beneath the surface and are easily exposed. The characters of each sizzling story experience passions that explode and send them hurling into a fiery universe of sensuous pleasure.

Author HAZEL MILLS knew that she wanted to be a writer from the moment she penned the first words of a poem titled “A Tree” when she was in the third grade. Even though she majored in business at the University of Alabama, writing continued to be her first love.

Hazel’s short erotic fiction can be seen in Playgirl Magazine’s Erotic Encounters (January 2007 issue) and in  Best Lesbian Love Stories: New York City, edited by Simone Thorne (Alyson Books, November 2006). Hazel also has an essay published in Jolie Dupre’s series in The Blushing Ladies Journal. PassionScape is her monthly column published online by EDC Creations and Sankofa Literary Society. She is a contributing author to the erotic anthology Mocha Chocolate: Taste A Piece of Ecstasy, edited by Shani Greene-Dowdell (ShaniBooks, March 2008). She lives in the Birmingham area with her husband and children.  Hazel’s debut collection of erotic Bare Necessities: Sensuous Tales of Passion is published by Xpress Yourself Publishing and is available at, , , or wherever books are sold..  Visit Hazel at and on MySpace at

Take a peek into Bare Necessities: Sensuous Tales of Passion. Check out Hazel’s passionately penned poem.

Six To Nine

I lie in my bed and think of youYour scent of fresh vanillaYour skin like melted chocolateI close my eyes and sayMmmThe love we made was sweet and pure

Our motions and emotions smooth

Touching, caressing, getting lost in desire

Giving new meaning to the word life

Breath like the sun on the inside of my thigh

Sent me soaring into an erotic universe

Lost in suspended animation

On an all time high

One upside down

The other right side up

Savoring the taste of love’s sweet fruit

Moans of ecstasy swelled and filled

Changing the molecules of space

I caught your rise

You caught my fall

In a flawless dance of lips and tongues

We came together as the dawning of Aquarius

Left breathlessly and seriously


The taste of your nectar

Stays perched on my lips

I know you experience the same

Until the next time our bodies

Dance six to nine

Hot! Sizzling! On Fire!, March 20, 2008

By  Claudia Brown-Mosley “Author” (Los Angeles, California) – See all my reviews

I finish this book in 3hrs because I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoyed the read of each story that Hazel wrote and I love the poems.

This author has talent and I highly recommend this book for all adults.

“Not one inhibitied word will flow from Hazel’s pen. Brace yourself for the sexiest ride of your life.” Shani Greene-Dowdell, editor of Mocha Chocolate: Taste A Piece of Ecstasy.

Would you get BARE for $100?

Visit for more details!

Perception of Image: The LeBron James Controversy

The interpretation of images is as varied as the people exposed to them. Perception of an image’s intent is often based on the individual’s experience and the analysis of that experience. I came face to face with this notion this week while watching the morning news. The newscaster’s teaser implored me to “stay tuned” to find out why many in the media and African American society were upset with the basketball star, LeBron James.
Certainly I was intrigued as I could not imagine where this scenario was headed. After the newsbreak, the April 2008 cover of Vogue magazine was splashed on the screen. LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen were front and center. Gisele was long and shapely in a green evening gown, while LeBron was wearing a blue sleeve-less athletic shirt and matching warm-up shorts. The supermodel had a look of sheer glee while LeBron, who was dribbling a basketball and palming Gisele’s waist, displayed a powerful snarl. Opponents of the cover argued that the image perpetuated the stereotype of aggressive and dangerous black manhood. Many likened it’s symbolism to the 1930’s King Kong, where a huge black ape grips a fair maiden in one hand while growling and swatting at her would-be rescuers.
Admittedly an ape, or more specifically King Kong, was one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I saw this cover. However, I was not offended. I marveled at how striking LeBron looked. In addition, there was something sexy about that image. After years of all the oppressive images of black people in general, I never want to see a black man in a position of subordination. Being a long-time spectator of basketball, I am well aware of the raw facial expressions these athletes make while driving to the hoop. To me, LeBron’s expression was nothing more than that. I was far more impressed by the image of power and aggression he displayed. When looking at this cover, it is LeBron who grabs your attention. Gisele is a mere after thought; a beautiful after thought, but an after thought nonetheless.
Opponents argue that there were many other shots Vogue could have used for its cover, many fine shots which are displayed inside the magazine. However, if one of those shots would have been used, would we all be discussing this issue? The cover’s image also took away from another surprising fact. LeBron James is the first African American man to grace Vogue’s cover after over 90 years in circulation. While Sean “Puffy” Combs and Naomi Campbell appeared on UK’s Vogue in October of 2001, I could not find an instance of an African American man appearing on the cover of the U.S. version. Over the decades the covers ranged from abstract art often with only objects depicted to tarot card-like images to silly carefree snapshots and finally to glam-goddesses in every branch of the media/entertainment arena.
There is an underlying objection to April’s cover that has less to do with the pose LeBron chose and more to do with what Gisele and LeBron represent together. Many on both sides of the racial coin are still uncomfortable with seeing a white woman and a black man together. Unlike the damsel in King Kong, Gisele looks elated with her partner, not terrified despite LeBron’s exaggerated snarl. Some feel it plays to the myths about the dangerous criminal minded black man and his desire to possess the white man’s woman. Interestingly enough the contrast between Gisele’s fair skin and LeBron’s ebony beauty was evident throughout many of the other pictures as well. Pictures of Gisele’s curvy five foot eleven frame dressed in white and LeBron’s towering six foot nine inch body dressed in black on the inside pages of the magazine played up their biggest differences. The contrast would have been more interesting if LeBron had been wearing white and Gisele the dark garb. Maybe the images would have then played upon the integration and perceived intimacy instead of drawing stark differences.
Once I was able to look past the controversy of the ape stance and the interracial coupling, I became more intrigued as to why LeBron was the first African American male to be immortalized on Vogue’s cover in the first place. Nothing against LeBron, but certainly there were more debonair African American men that would have kept with Vogue’s fabulous fashion image. Names like Denzel Washington, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan come to mind.
This issue not only demonstrated our continuing struggle with cultural image and interracial intimacy, it also speaks to the conflict of gender identity. Gisele and LeBron are no doubt excellent representatives of their gender but does a woman always want to be depicted as a possession and the man as predator?
Vogue has brought to light many conflicting ideals with a simple picture. Isn’t that what we expect from art?

Meet Elon Bomani

Elon Bomani

Elon Bomani is an author, holistic natural living mentor, and self -made millionaire. Recently, the Literary Diva’s, Cheryl Lacey Donovan, had an opportunity to sit down with Elon and talk to her about her life and how she went from homelessness to a self-made millionaire.
You wear so many hats, how do you manage to find balance in your life?
In order to find balance in my life I make sure that my mind my body and my spirit are in balance. In order to do that I start my day around 3:00am. From 3:00am – 8:00am I spend time by myself with God. I also really love what I do and I encourage others to find something they love to do, find a way to do it and when you do you’ll never work a day in your life.
What is a typical day like for Elon?
I awaken at 3:00am. First I pray because that it my communication with God, Secondly I meditate because that gives God the ability to communicate with me. Finally I do yoga as a means to get my mind, body and spirit in totally communion with one another.
You have been quoted as saying words create your world, what does that mean?
Proverbs teaches us that we have the power of life and death in our own tongues. So, I truly believe that everything that we say is a prayer. Therefore, with our words we are able to create our own reality.
You were homeless, yet you had a good credit rating. How did that happen?
The reality is that most of us are one paycheck from homelessness or bankruptcy. In my case I was a natural practitioner with a store front practice. I was married and I had a newborn baby. ONe of my fears was that I did not want to be unavailable for my child. So, I made a consciouns decision to close my practice.  Not unlike many other women. I had releinquished all of the control of my finances to my husband. Unfortunately, he took advantage of that and I found myself homeless. I was not financially savvy at the time and as a result I had to learn how to create my own wealth
Elon this brings me to the next question. You say that the african american community is suffering from wealth deprivation, how have you assisted in the elimination of this phenomenon?
Well, as you know we were at one time the commodity. The reality behind slavery is more an economic one rather that an emotional one. As a result, we as a community have a subconscious aversion to money. We believe that our self worth is determined by our networth. Therefore, we go out and buy the things that we feel make us look wealthy.
I remember one interview that I did where the interviewer made the comment that white people are rich and black people just look rich . This is so true.
None of us were taught to be financially savvy as we were growing up. We were told to go to school and get a job. But, these practices do not lead to wealth.
In order to get ourselves to wealth we need to do two things.
1. Develop a wealth consciousness
2. Become financially literate
Owning businesses and investing, particularly in real estate are the only ways that you can truly become wealthy.
What’s next for Elon?
I am currently writing my second book Dynamic Diva for Women Who Don’t have Time for a Nervous Breakdown but Need a Spiritual Breakthrough.
How can our readers get in contact with you?
They can visit my website where they can find a wealth of knowledge related to wealth, health, and wisdom.
Thank you so much Elon for the interview.

Word Choice

Being a writer and a lover of words, I was presented with another example of the importance of word choice. If you have ever used a thesaurus, you know that there are many different ways to communicate the same message. I am a little embarrassed to say that I did not pick up on poor word choice used in a story a fellow co-worker was relaying to me.
Still being a part of corporate world, I was invited to attend a spring training event between the Angels and the Colorado Rockies. Although baseball is not really that interesting to me, I took advantage of the opportunity to socialize with my co-workers and play hooky from work for the afternoon. My co-worker who is a 28 year old Caucasian (his mother is a quarter Hispanic), homosexual was sharing with me how my recent accomplishment of getting a book published had inspired him to consider starting a memoir of his own. He’s certified to teach three languages, plus he has lived and travelled overseas.
He was sharing with me some of his traveling experiences, including the absurd sense of entitlement many American exhibit when traveling abroad. We arrived at the topic regarding cultural diversity and he explained how he was in Utah during the month of February. He was well aware that February is Black History Month, however, he was appalled to witness it being referenced as Black Awareness month by a local Utah news station. I didn’t catch what he meant at first, until he explained, that we acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness Month or AIDS Awareness month but not Black Awareness Month. I instantly saw the light. Those other awareness months focus on disease. Their purpose is to shed light on and education society about the affliction in the hope to save lives and spark preventative action.
Being Black is not a disease, although it may sometimes cause dis-ease to others. The month of February isn’t about being aware of Black people. It is about recognizing and appreciating our numerous contributions to society as a collective people. This gentleman was so insulted, he went as far as sending an email to the station to make them aware of their error. He did receive a reply, but the respondent did not comprehend the point my co-worker was trying to make. When he sent a follow-up email to more explicitly address the issue, no further acknowledgement was given.
Let’s look at the word “aware” more carefully. Aware is defined by as follows:
1. Having knowledge or cognizance 2. Archaic Vigilant; watchful

It is defined at as:
1: archaic : watchful, wary 2: having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge
To be aware of Blacks during the month of February is definitely not the connotation we wish to have associated with accomplishments and contributions we’ve made to society. Black History exists to honor those shining examples within our culture and community as well as to appreciate the strides our ancestors have made in laying the foundation for our current freedoms. History encompasses the good and the bad since we can learn from both. In that news stations choice of words when discussing Black History Month, they were encouraging the dark period of our history to repeat itself.

Who’s Who?


Remember in your high school days when you chose a classmate for “Who’s Who.”  Some of the categories that could be won were “Most Likely to Succeed, Most Comical, Most Loquacious and one that really stood out was “Best Dressed.”  If you apply this Best Dressed category to today’s child of God, do you think that you would win?  Do you think that you would even be nominated as one of the Best Dressed children of God?  The qualifications don’t have anything to do with whether you sport the latest fashions, or whether you can mix ‘n’ match your outfits to make yourself look like you just stepped out of one of those fancy fashion magazines.  No, the Best Dressed child of God should not be so concerned or consumed by his or her outerwear but it’s what is worn on the inside that counts.  For instance, how is your heart dressed?  Is it dressed with jealousy and envy or compassion and love?  Is your spirit dressed in the best of the best?  That is, are you dressed in the full armor of God? As a child of the most high King you are continually being set up to be destroyed by the enemy.  He wants to see you lose your winning place as one of God’s Best Dressed.  But if you put on the full armor of God you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.   You see, my friends, the Word tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, you cannot half dress if you expect to win.  You have to put on the full armor so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.   The next step that you need to take to be one of God’s Best Dressed is to stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, and then you put on the breastplate of righteousness.  But that’s not all.  You know in order to be one of the Best Dressed you must be fashioned from head to toe.  That means that your feet should be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, you must take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.   Finally, put on your last piece of attire-this last piece is what makes the rest of your outfit stand out. It is the deciding factor in whether you are chosen as one of God’s Best Dressed.  It is the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God!  So my friends, as you walk mighty in spirit this week, take the time to dress yourself in the appropriate attire so that you will be able to WIN whatever battle that comes before you The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.  The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.  Psalms 37:39-40 Scripture to hide in your heart:  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.. Psalms 23:2-3 There was a poem I used to recite as a small child called I’m Determined to Be somebody Someday and it was written by Herbert Brewster.  Well, I took that poem and made a few revisions and tailored it to fit my life: My physical condition and sometimes dark circumstances,Often made it appear that I wouldn’t have a chanceI’ve had some trials that attempted to throw me off courseSituations in life that left me with limited choicesBut in spite of the things that have tried to stifle me along life’s way,I was determined to be somebody someday There wasn’t any royal blood coursing through my veinsNo great family background for me to claimMy physical condition to you might look badYou might say, she hasn’t had the chance that others have hadBut in spite of the things that have tried to block my wayI’ve continued to say, I’m going to be somebody someday My legs well they may be skinnyAnd my body at times pain-wrackedBut I can’t let things like that throw me off the trackI can’t let times of failure keep me down Instead I keep climbing the ladder of life round by roundI’ll keep on climbing, keep reaching upKeep on believing, and keep on trusting 

And in spite of all the obstacles that have tried to block my way

Look at me now

Didn’t I tell you – I was going to be somebody someday? ~By Shelia E. Lipsey What are you going to do with the failures in your life:  I urge you to use failure to reflect, then take time to rest and finally use it as a period to learn how to react.

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Showcasing today’s hottest author and
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Ban March Author Showcase

Focus on Your Dreams and Succeed


Black Authors Network featured authors Monica Carter Tagore, Toniqua Womack, and Michelle Valentine on Wednesday night’s show. This was a fantastic show about staying true to your dreams!

Michelle Valentine
Nyagra’s Falls
(Strebor Books, Intl./Simon & Schuster) in stores now
Insatiable ~ the rise of a porn star (with Heather Hunter) in stores now
A Girl’s Gotta Eat ( St. Martin ’s Press) in stores now
Visit me at-

Knowing the importance of perfecting her craft, Michelle graduated Cum Laude from Marymount College where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech, Drama, & Communications, while minoring in Marketing & Creative Writing and is currently enrolled in a Master’s program at New York University. During her undergraduate studies, she edited & created screenplays for the college, wrote for the campus newspaper, had a radio advice show & assisted in writing music video treatments. As a writer, she has freelanced for several magazines, contributing stories on artists like the legendary Chuck D and the multi-platinum selling Destiny’s Child. As she cultivated her writing style, she began writing songs while also referencing, doing backgrounds and ghost vocaling for several artists.Beating out 100s of hopefuls, Michelle was chosen to help revive the group The Covergirls with her lead and background vocals. Although the group was already in existence prior to her arrival, Michelle gave the group new life as the new lead vocalist, helping them secure a recording deal with Sony’s Epic Records. With Michelle’s sultry rendition of the R&B classic “Wishing on a Star”, the group had a top 5 hit on Billboard and won a New York Music Award. Proving her versatility, Michelle successfully recorded the song not only as a ballad, but also as a hip-hop influenced version – not only in English, but also in Spanish. The hit, which ran for many years as the theme song for one of Brazil’s top novelas, enabled her to travel & perform on stages all across the US & abroad, for audiences of all races, creeds, and colors, demonstrating her obvious universal appeal.

Having limitless aspirations, in the year 2002, Michelle began co-hosting a nationally syndicated radio show, where she conducted numerous on-air interviews with some of today’s hottest artists alongside the infamous “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels. As if all of this wasn’t enough, she embarked on her career as an author and has recently completed her second novel, A Girl’s Gotta Eat, released at the end of 2007 by St. Martin’s Press, while her 1st book, entitled Nyagra’s Falls, published by Simon & Schuster, is also currently in stores. She also co-wrote the Essence best selling fictionalized autobiographical epic entitled, Insatiable – The Rise of a Porn Star, with adult film superstar, Heather Hunter.
“Those who rule themselves, can rule others & the world……” is a motto that Michelle lives by. It keeps her focused and grounded, spiritual and true to herself. In a world that often tells us what we cannot do, Michelle has proven that the sky is truly the limit.

Toni “toniwo” Womack
www.toniwo.comToni “toniwo” Womack is a mother, author, Navy veteran and spoken word performer who began sharing her love for writing and expressive thought a few years ago.

With a mix of modesty and flamboyance, as well as utilizing colorful, thought-provoking rhymes, toniwo enables to convey her thoughts and feelings to her audience. As she continued to grow as a performance poet, she found that much of what she was saying was beginning to help some people come to some realization about themselves and their relationships with other people.
Through her poetry, toniwo made people look at their situations and laugh at them no matter how bad. However, that wasn’t enough. THAT’S WHAT YOU GET FOR RUNNING WITH SCISSORS came from toniwo’s inability to contain her observations to a few verses. What went from poetic verse turned into short stories that she was willing to share with her friends and now…with the world.

Monica Carter Tagore
Monica Carter Tagore is an entrepreneur, author, columnist and speaker. She is the publisher of, which provides resources on entrepreneurship and business for creative people. Her new book, Zoom Power: Your Key to Hitting Your Personal, Business and Financial Targets gives practical tools, tips and strategies to achieve goals and find success.Focus is key: Zoom Power reveals the power of two key elements, focus and perseverance, to achieve goals. Focus is essential if you want to maximize your impact because pop culture has lied to us: you can’t have it all. You’ve got to choose where you want to have success. If you refuse to choose, you will lose. Focus on an area or effort to increase your chances for success.

Perseverance takes guts: Perseverance separates the successful from the wannabes. Most people give up on a worthy goal after the first bump or hard time. But true success means sticking through a failure or two to get to your reward. If you don’t have the mind to persevere, then you’re not in it to win it.

Today’s economy means doing things differently. The economy we’re in now is causing people to get antsy. People want to jump from get-rich-quick-scheme to get-rich-quick scheme, but that’s no answer. It’s tempting to flit from idea to idea, but you can’t do that, even now when you feel like you can’t afford to wait for something to pan out. Evaluate your idea to see how sound it is. Put together a plan. And implement it. This economy will be a time of much opportunity, and those who see their opportunity — and seize their opportunity — will be the ones smiling when we emerge from this tough economic time.

You can’t wait for everything to be perfect. Whether you have an idea for a book or a business, a new project or a new invention, you’ve got to go with it now. Decide now — today — what step you will take to move your idea forward. Will you evaluate the idea to see if it actually is a good one? Will you work on a business plan? Will you seek coaching or mentoring from someone who has been where you are? What will you do? Time out for watching and waiting. It’s time for acting. In chapter nine of Zoom Power: Your Key to Hitting Your Personal, Business and Financial Targets, you’ll see why you must approach your project with urgency.

You’ve got to strive to get to the top of your game — and stay there. It’s not enough to just be good enough in this economy. In this economy, you’ve got to keep educating yourself, keep training yourself, keep pushing yourself forward. If you want long-term success, what you did to get to the top may not be enough to keep you at the top. Keep learning. In chapter 16 of Zoom Power, you’ll see why it’s important to constantly strive for more knowledge, insight and information.

Visit the Black Author’s Network Today!

From Dusk to Dawn by Niambi Brown Davis


From Dusk to Dawn
by Niambi Brown Davis (Author)

Listen to her interview on BAN Radio

Listen to the Black Authors Network Interview 

By the time she was 22, Ayo Montgomery had been an expatriate, a wife, a mother and a widow. Twenty years later, she’s finally at a place of peace in her life. Her son is away at school in Florida. Her soap and body products business is flourishing. She doesn’t know what she’s missing until Bilal Abdul Salaam walks into her life.

Bilal has been looking for a woman to love, cherish, have children and grow old with. On the hottest day of the year, he finds her, and she’s everything he didn’t expect. He’s Muslim and she most definitely is not.

Ayo is 42 and has already raised a son. He’s 32 and ready to start a family of his own. But both are overwhelmed by a smoldering attraction that refuses to acknowledge their differences. As they work their way through the obstacles of family and friends, they discover their love is strong enough, passionate enough and deep enough to make every sacrifice worth-while.


“Cultures clash and sparks fly in this sizzling debut romance from Niambi Brown Davis. Don’t miss it!”
Deirdre Savoy, National Best-Selling Romance and Romantic Suspense Author


  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Parker Publishing LLC (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600430368
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600430367

Please visit the authors website for the full details of this fantastic book

New Author: Niambi Brown Davis on BAN Radio

Latest Release:  From Dusk to Dawn

Author Niambi Brown Davis featured March 21, 2008
on Black Authors Network Radio
 8pm-10pm EST  Mon., Wed., and Friday nights
Authors dial-in number:  (646) 200-0402



Successful cosmetics CEO, Aye Montgomery, has her life on track. Her son is away at Annapolis, her business is flourishing and she is comfortable in her own skin, despite the untimely death of her husband. She does t know she s missing something in her life until on a hot, August day, she meets a younger man, Bill Abdul-Salaam. Bill Abdul-Salaam has been waiting for the right woman all his life, a woman he can love, cherish, have children with and grow old with. On a hot, August day, he finds her, but she s everything he din t expect.

Aye and Bill are worlds apart. She’ s Christian and he’ s Muslim. She is ten years older than he and already had her family, and he is just wanting to start his. But both are overwhelmed by a smoldering attraction that refuses to acknowledge their differences. As they work their way through the obstacles of family and friends, they discover their love is strong enough, passionate enough and deep enough to make every sacrifice worthwhile.

  • Publisher: Parker Publishing Llc
  • Pub. Date: April 28, 2008
  • ISBN-13: 9781600430367
  • Sales Rank: 251,408
  • 250pp

Niambi Brown Davis

Transcript of Obama’s March 2008 speech

Transcript of Obama’s speech

What are your thoughts on this speech? Share with us how this makes you feel.

The following is a transcript of Sen. Barack Obama’s speech, as provided by Obama’s campaign.

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.
Sen. Barack Obama has said the controversy over his ex-pastor’s remarks has been “a distraction” to the campaign.

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy.
Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least 20 more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution — a Constitution that had at its very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States.

What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part — through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk — to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign — to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.

I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together — unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction — towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas.

I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners — an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters.

I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts — that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity.

Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African-Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.”

We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action, that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.

On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation — that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev.Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain.

Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered ontroversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice.

Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country — a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America, a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the
perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Rev. Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems — two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are
neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Rev. Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church?

And I confess that if all that I knew of Rev. Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and YouTube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way.

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than 20 years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor.

He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine, who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth — by housing the homeless,ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, “Dreams From My Father,” I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:”People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out,
a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note — hope! — I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the
stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones.

“Those stories — of survival, and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world.

“Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish — and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety — the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger.

Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping,screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear.

The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes,the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Rev. Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children.

Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions — the good and the bad — of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother — a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork.

We can dismiss Rev. Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Rev. Wright made in his offending sermons about America — to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through — a part of our union that we have yet to perfect.

And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country.

But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination — where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments — meant that black families could not amass
any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations.

That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families — a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened.

And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods — parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement — all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Rev. Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted.

What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it — those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination.

That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations –those young men and, increasingly, young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways.

For the men and women of Rev. Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years.

That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Rev. Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning.

That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change.

But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community.

Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race.

Their experience is the immigrant experience — as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime oflabor.

They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.

So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African-American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced,
resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation.

Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere
political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle-class squeeze — a corporate culture rife with inside dealing,questionable accounting practices and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that
favor the few over the many.

And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns — this too widens the racial divide, and blocks
the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy — particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction — a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people — that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life.

But it also means binding our particular grievances — for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs — to the larger aspirations of all Americans, the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family.

And it means taking full responsibility for own lives — by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their
own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American — and yes, conservative — notion of self-help found frequent expression in Rev. Wright’s sermons.

But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Rev. Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country — a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black, Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still
irrevocably bound to a tragic past.

But what we know — what we have seen — is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope — the audacity to hope — for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination — and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past — are real and must be addressed.

Not just with words, but with deeds — by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations.

It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less,than what all the world’s great religions demand — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find
that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle — as we did in the O.J. trial — or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina — or as fodder for the nightly

We can play Rev. Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words.

We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children.

This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st Century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the emergency room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care, who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region,every walk of life.

This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag.

We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for president if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.

And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation –the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today — a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr.King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, 23-year-old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was 9 years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents, too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in
her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time.

And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

E-mail to a friend.

Minnie E Miller
The Rebel With Causes & Author



Repost from newsgroup email newsletter, Rev. writes Jodi Kantor of the New York Times

Please read the article and share your thoughts or opinions.
March 11, 2007
Jodi Kantor
The New York Times
9 West 43rd Street
New York,
New York 10036-3959

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography”of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met.

For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.

I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who
not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have
a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because
they believed something other than what he believed.

I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not just “in word only.” I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed.

Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that.

When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?,” that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it “in his hand.” Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his
candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy.

I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s
first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama’s “Spiritual Biography.” Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that
Hannity of “Hannity and Colmes” is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years.

The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator;
and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way,
you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or “spin” because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.

Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party’s national “blog.” The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.

Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on
the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!
Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. ,
Senior Pastor
Trinity United Church of Christ

The Power of Hair

Over the last week or so, hair has been a running theme. Like many African American women, hair is a recurring issue in my life. I go through spells of trying to grow it out and episodes of impatience where I cut it all off. Tired of being in between hairstyles and trying to hold out long enough for it to grow past my shoulders, I found myself contemplating how to change it again. During this time of hair indecisiveness, I shared a meal with two bald men who expressed the reluctance to accept the loss of theirs.
Each man, one African American and nearly thirty, the other Caucasian and a few years away from 40, shared how they came to embrace being bald. The younger one had vowed years earlier that he would shave his head the moment his hairline began to fade. The other gentleman shared his experience in the military and how the ritual of having his head shaved affected how the hair grow back from that point on.
I listened as the men exchanged their scalp maintenance rituals in much the same way women share how they keep their hair shiny or what techniques they use to achieve the desired style. As I sat there with my hair clipped up off my shoulders, a sort of mock-baldness, it wasn’t long before the men offered to change the subject for my benefit, assuming I had nothing to contribute.
At that moment, I took a chance in sharing the contemplation of having hair extensions added to my hair styling arsenal. Being a purist, anything fake, whether it is nails, boobs or hair never really appealed to me. My hair grows long, only if I am patience enough. Much to my surprise, these men urged me to abandon my pure hair bias.
In prep for the transformation I visited a wig/extension accessory shop. Afraid to fully commit to sewn-in extensions, I resolved to get temporary real hair tracks that clip in among rows of my own hair strands. Waling into that store felt natural. It was a black owned and operated business. Being very successful, it was one of two locations the family owned. As my friend helped me pick out the hair, the other works asked why a black girl would buy clip on hair extensions. My friend reassured them that clips-ons were best for a hair extension virgin like me. They were struck by the idea that a black woman over thirty had never worn hair extensions before. My friend laughed, “Hell, she only started wearing fake ponytails over the last year.” Needless to say, I am not the usual customer at an establishment like that.
That weekend with those wavy hair clips in place, I felt like a different person. I was more confident than before. I felt more feminine than before. Certainly, women with short hair are no less confident or feminine than those with long hair, but after having shoulder-length hair for so long, having hair that swung against the middle of my back affected how I reacted to others and now they reacted to me.
While not real important, I noticed that the glances of men lasted longer and women of other ethnicities recognized the equality of my beauty in relation to theirs. In the workplace my knowledge lends to a feeling of power, but even that power was given a surge with my long wavy locks. No longer did I feel like a teenager with my hair pinned to the back of my head in search of an identity. Now I felt like a woman with purpose and a solid grasp of my existence.
The last time I encountered these feelings was when I returned to work after having my hair cut into a layered bob. That cut conjured such feelings because I was no longer hiding behind my hair but I was willing to put myself in the forefront and compete. With long hair, I am still competing but embracing what a softness that long hair represents. This experience as well as the conversation with those bald gentlemen taught me that confidence and self-assurance have nothing to do with the length of hair or the presence of hair. It has everything to do with how we feel about ourselves and our hair.
So whether I wear my hair short, long or enhanced with extensions, my power rests in how I feel about myself and how I project that feeling toward others.

Wake up America

Draft Wake up America—The Game is now Dirty Politics! Even though I have always voted in all the state and national elections, I slept through the political process of elections. I discovered I was not alone and there are many who are still in the dream state.  It is not until this presidential election that I woke up. I credit my new awareness of politics to my daughter. We had many political discussions about the presidential campaign. Then I read Senator Obama’s books and listened to several of his speeches. They all resonated with my own sentiments about America and a time for change.   As Senator Obama often says, the change is about changing mindsets. I am a firm believer that if you change your consciousness, you change your life. The old paradigm of polarity, wars, and inequities that held us bondage is being dug up and tossed out by a young Senator with a purpose to change how we think about ourselves as individuals and as part of the human race. He is changing the consciousness of not only America but other countries as they too are closely following our electoral process and the speeches of Senator Obama calling for compassion, acceptance, equity, and unity for everyone.As a neophyte in politics, I am learning how dirty politics can be or I should say how dirty the Clinton campaign can be. Just before the Ohio and Texas primaries, Senator Clinton threw the kitchen sink and the garbage disposal at Senator Obama. Her campaigned lied and distorted the facts about his campaign’s involved with the Canadians and NAFTA* in order to win the Ohio and Texas primaries. They used a commercial ad that put fear in the minds and hearts of Americans. Just think how this played out overseas? You might say this is part of that dirty politics.  But why would we want someone who lies, cheats and do character assassinations to be commander-in-chief? Do you really think Senator Hillary Clinton would change once she is in the White House? She cares more about winning then about a better quality of life for Americans and others. I do not want a candidate that fights so dirty she forgets the basic principle of honoring one another.  Imagine what this person would do as commander-in-chief.  She would misuse power the same way her husband did when he stepped over the line and got involved with a young intern then lied about it.  We can’t allow this to happen. Together we can change the political system of America to unite all people by getting involved.  We can even forgive the Clintons!If you are not an Obama supporter, I urge you to take the time and find out about Senator Barack Obama. I strongly recommend that you read or listen to the audio version of his autobiography, Dreams From my Father.  You can also go to his website— and read about his polices.  Become a supporter for truth, life and liberty. You can talk up Senator Barack Obama. Have conversations with your family, friends and co-workers. Send emails, write blogs, and donate your time and money.  The Clinton campaign has demonstrated that they twist and distort the truth.  They will continue to use these negative tactics. And oftentimes, the media will spin the negative. We can do a lot at the grass root level by dispelling these false accusations by the Clintons. As in the Matrix, we can take the red pill and wake up in our beds and live the same way we have for centuries or we can take the blue pill and become an awakener to truth and change for progress.     

 *You can read the truth about NAFTA at:

A Purpose Found in Ordinary Inconveniences

It had been a long week of doing everyone else’s work but my own. I hadn’t done much writing but had managed to keep up on my reading and the marketing of my first novel. In the back of my mind I strategized how to kick start my stalled second novel and briefly contemplated my next two online writing assignments.

                 It was an unexpected flat tire that taught me two important lessons and directed the day’s path to a situation that would give rise to my writing slump.

                 Over the last two years I have encountered several flat tires. It had been five to be exact, on three different cars. It wasn’t till the recent incident that I realized what the flats meant. While a huge inconvenience, the flats always seem to be discovered in safe locations and during a time when my life was moving in the fast lane, both literally and figuratively. The flat tires required me to slow down and take stock of my surroundings and my path.

                 This time, I had to stop putting off things that required my attention and maintenance—things like replacing my two bald rear tires, getting my cracked filling fixed and taking my car through inspection.

                 Well, Friday night found me at the Sears Auto center at my local mall. As I walked the mall’s corridors in anticipation of finding a bookstore to spend my time in wait for my car, I found many stores I had never seen before, but could not find the bookstore. I strolled along the entire top floor with no success, then I descended to the ground level only to come upon the vacant shell that use to B. Dalton Bookseller. My heart sank and I immediately went in search of the mall directory hoping there was another book establishment within the mall that I had yet to come across. Alas, there was none.

                 As a newly published author, the last thing you want to see is a mall with no bookstores. This finding or lack of one ignited the desire that had been smoldering inside me for some time.

                 The next day with two new tires and a positive car inspection report, I rewarded myself with a trip to a used bookstore. Before I knew it, I had spent three hours and $150 in the store.

                 What’s most interesting isn’t the amount of money I spent or the time it took to spend it. Most interesting was the selection of the books themselves. I picked up 19 books in all. The subjects included suspense, feminist critique, black feminist critique, African American history, erotica, writing reference, and women’s studies. The specific variety of my bounty was no mistake. I was transported to my college years where the only thing more important than studying literature or women’s studies was studying African American history. I recently finished an article on bell hooks (spelled with lower case letters in respect to the scholar’s preference). The research for that article bridged the gap between my interest in women’s studies and my interest in African American history. Being a black woman, the merging of these two subjects should have been obvious, but it wasn’t.

                 These occurrences resurrected my interest in African American studies and feminism, a platform that will give my literary voice the purpose I was seeking.

Who knew a flat tire could inflate my literary destiny.

Double Platinum by Shelia M Goss

DOUBLE PLATINUM by Shelia M Goss is in stores.

Readers & Friends,

I’m celebrating the release of my fourth novel this week.  I am excited and nervous at the same time. I’ve been building up to this moment for a few months and now it’s here. I hope you enjoy Parris Mitchell’s story. 

If the story interests  you, I need your help to make this book release a success. You can find the book in all the major chain stores and if by chance its not on the shelf, ask for it. If you’re in one of the states where there’s bad winter weather, its available at any one of the online retailers such as and Barnes and Noble

Thank you in advance for making Double Platinum a hit.

Shelia M Goss

What Readers are saying about Double Platinum…

DOUBLE PLATINUM is a hit…The Heat Level for DOUBLE PLATINUM is mildly Sensual and very well done.” ~ Kimber An, Enduring Romance

Double Platinum by Shelia Goss is a great read; with a mix of everyday personalities and a look inside singers’ lives where we find that every thing that glitters is not gold.” ~ Cheryl H, APOOO BookClub 

“Double Platinum moves at break neck speed and is a thoroughly enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a novel that successfully combines glamour, suspense and intrigue with a highly charged love affair then this is the novel for you.” ~ Janice Spence, Freelance Music Journalist (Gossip/News columnist and former contributor and Don Diva UK , etc.)

An evocative look at the music industry from the inside. Double Platinum is a gripping portrayal of one woman’s quest to climb back to the top of the charts while overcoming personal obstacles”. ~ Vonnie Woods –

Interview with JJ Michael by Afrika Midnight Asha Abney

What is your name?

J.J. Michael

 Tell me something about yourself:  

I have a B.A. from Howard University and MLS from the University of Maryland. I worked as Head of the twenty-six branches of District of Columbia Library for a number of years. Now, I am an author of two contemporary spirituality/Christian fiction titles: Life is Never as Its Seems (2005) and It’s Not Over Yet (2007) published by Genesis Press. I am also an intuitive numerologist. I can actually look at a person’s name and birth date and tell you many things about their personality and destiny. This gift has allowed me to help many individual in their spiritual growth through my writing.

 What is your profession? 

I am a full time writer, intuitive numerologist, and Chios Master Teacher and Healer.

 What are your goals for your writing career? 

I am writing the third book in the Lindy Lee trilogy. I also write metaphysical non-fiction books. I self-published through in 2000, Path to Truth: a Spiritual Guide to Higher Consciousness. This book provides an awareness and understanding of the seven spiritual laws and mysteries of the universe and how these teachings are applicable in today’s world. Readers can download the ebook version of Path to Truth at I also plan to do another ebook on the Law of Mind.

 Who are some of your favorite authors? 

I do a lot of research and read a lot of non-fiction books. Some of my favorite authors in this category are Gregg Braden, Elizabeth Gilbert, Drunvalo Melchizedek, the Oracle, and Osho. My favorite fiction writers are Bebe Moore Campbell, Sidney Shelton, Octavia Butler, Dan Brown, Francis Ray, Walter Mosley, Tananarive Due and James Patterson.

 How long have you been writing? 

I always wanted to be a writer. I remember writing my first story at the age of nine and sending it off to publishing houses. As I read books such as the Celestine Prophecy and the Alchemist, I knew that I wanted to write book that promote conscious awakening and spiritual empowerment. As I mentioned, I self-published my first book in 2000. However, I did technical writing for my job.

 What are some of your favorite books?

I love the Da Vinci Code, Celestine Prophecy, the Alchemist, The Truth, Eat, Pray, Love, Living Blood, and Parable of the Sower.

  What genre do you like reading the most?

 I love reading metaphysical, spirituality, religious, science fiction, and contemporary fiction.

 Tell us something about your most recent book?What inspired you to write your most recent book? 

My first fiction book, Life is Never as It Seems, tells the story of a young woman, Lindy Lee, coming of age in 1967, as she transforms through the complexities of love, spirituality and religion. The free-standing sequel, It’s Not Over Yet, (July 2007), takes place in the late seventies and Lindy Lee must choose either her family and their traditional religious beliefs or her new spiritual beliefs and the man she loves.

 What inspired you to write your most recent book?

Life is Never as It Seems ends in a cliff-hanger. I received lots of mail from my readers wanting to know what happens to the characters in the book. Of course, I couldn’t leave my readings hanging out there!

 After readers have read your book, what do you want them to walk away with?

Most of my readers have told me that even though my books are fiction, they find themselves underlining much of the information dealing with metaphysics. I want to promote self growth and self-realization.

 Who published your most recent book? What was it like working with them? 

Genesis-Press published by two fiction books and they are releasing Life is Never as It Seems in mass market paperback in March 2008. I have learned a great deal from both self-publishing and traditional publishing.

 Do you have a specific target audience for your most recent book? 

My books are for everyone. Since my first book, I do have people who follow my writing.

 Who designed your cover? 

Chris Ester ( the artist for Genesis Press.

 Is there any advice that you can offer for new or emerging authors? 

Yes, write, write and write. Believe in yourself and your writing. Learn everything you can about the publishing and writing fields.

 Do you have any projects that you are working on? 

I am still promoting my books and as I previously mentioned, I am writing the third book in the series and a non-fiction book.

 Where can the readers find more about you and your work or projects? 

The readers can go to my website: or visit me on They can sign up for my newsletter on either website.

 Where can interested prospective readers purchase your books? 

They can purchase them at all major bookstores, Genesis-Press, Karibu Bookstores, and online at, B&N. com. They can also download my ebook, Path to Truth, at

Thank you and many blessings to you and your readers.

Get connected

Now there are two places to stay connected….Get alerts when I make new posts at the Sable Lit Lounge by joining me at the Sable Lit Lounge newsgroup!
The Sable Lit Lounge is an interactive newsletter moderated by debut Interracial/Multicultural Romance Author, Laura Major. The purpose of the group is to allow lovers of interracial and multicultural romantic fiction to come together and discuss the genre and the industry, as well as learn about the latest news and events involving the industry’s leading interracial and multicultural romance writers.The Sable Lit Lounge MSN Newsgroup is also the home of debut author, Laura Major’s personal newsletter. Get the latest news regarding her writing career, special literary events and industry happenings, all in one place.

March is calling Chocolate Lovers: PassionScape

Can you believe that it is March already? Wow, how time flies especially when you’re having fun! Right now, I am having a ball writing and preparing for two, count ’em, two upcoming releases. My first solo endeaver, Bare Necessities: Sensuous Tales of Passion, will be released April 1, 2008 by Xpress Yourself Publishing. I am also a contributor to the anticipated erotic blockbuster, Mocha Chocolate: Taste a Piece of Ecstasy, edited by Karibu Bestselling author, Shani Greene- Dowdell, to be released March 29, 2008 by Shanibooks.

Mocha Chocolate: Taste A Piece of Ecstasy is a collection of masterfully written stories about eroticism and love, displaying some of the best story crafters. It is as rich in flavor as it’s title! From passionately sensual to uninhibitedly erotic, from hopefully satisfied to the teasingly seductful, this arousing collection will tempt and inspire you…and set your love on fire!

Talented contributors to this steamy anthology are:

Shani Greene-Dowdell

Sunshine Royal

Caramel Vixen

Carla S. Pennington

Kotanya Kimbrough

Kanarian Kindred

Granson Laruth

Niyah Moore

Landis Y. Lain

Shanay Nae

Joi Marsh

Chloe R.

C. Nicole

Larry Wilson

David Williams

Elissa Gabrielle

Hazel Mills

Want to read an excerpt from this book? Check out for “Guilty Release” by Chloe R. or for “Hopelessly Addicted” by yours truly, Hazel Mills.

Be first in line to get this hot little number. Mocha Chocolate: Taste A Piece of Ecstasy can be pre-ordered at and and received a $5.00 gift card to Starbucks and qualify to win a $25.00 gift card to Godiva Chocolates.

Learn more about this new release by visiting

Until next time…