Fearing for your life every time you walk outside, every time you get behind the wheel, every time you see a police officer, every time you breathe, is exhausting. Living in a world in which your blackness and woman-ness makes you less than human -- a hypersexual, angry or subservient caricature, the constant target of catcalling, rape and assault -- is exhausting.
In order to truly make our communities safer, we must make sure that people who have served their time are able to fully and productively engage in our society -- whether through education or employment or some other constructive means.
My professor's perception was rooted in a common false meme that has followed black America since slavery -- the idea that we lack financial acumen, don't know how to build businesses, need to be told what to do with our finances, and are overly reliant on government handouts.
Wouldn't it be great to celebrate black people, just for being black? Nothing is more positive than flipping the script. Where there is oppression, we will uplift. And where there is hate, we'll inject love.
"He that is greatest among you shall be your servant." The late Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, modeled servant leadership in action. His leadership focused on the importance of community-building and empowering others to lead social change.
During our weekend together, joy sat right next to pain, our celebration of life right next to our grieving of death. I left feeling affirmed and hopeful.
People of color are dying in custody on a regular basis in this country, but the clearest outrage is being directed against a lion dying at the hands of a hunter in Zimbabwe.
America has always relied on black forgiveness to absolve itself of white guilt. The Charleston massacre was no different. By choosing to highlight the forgiveness of the black faith community, they shifted the burden of responsibility onto the oppressed in a classic display of deflection.
The scarring of war and poverty and racism that Malcolm X spoke of continues. It's time that students learn about the long history of activism that has challenged these deadly triplets.
When I visited Christian Love Baptist Church in Irvington, N.J. on July 19 and heard Johnson speak, six years after her son's death, it wasn't a dramatization of events it was real life. A mother poured her heart out to a congregation, which understood her pain.
While access to culturally diverse providers is low, the cost of mental health treatment remains high, which serves as an additional impediment to bridging the gap between the onset of symptoms and accessing professional care.
When I went to South Africa in 2010 to lead a creative writing club for teenage girls, I made sure to emphasize that word: club. I had never taught writing before, didn't have a teaching assistantship as I earned an MFA in nonfiction. I would not be correcting their grammar, nor assigning homework. Besides, how could I persuade girls to spend their Saturday afternoons in a writing class?
I am sorry for having even an ounce of doubt because I did not want the legacy of America's dad being black to deteriorate. I apologize for being so obsessed with that legacy that it blinded me to any wrongdoing.
No one I knew ever trusted the police. We never believed that they were there to protect and serve us. This became abundantly clear when I was 14 years old.
Getting behind the wheel, Bland had three strikes against her. She was black, female and fearless, a combination that is antithetical to all the vaunted white-centered narratives of driving and freedom in the U.S.
While police brutality affects people of all races and backgrounds in the U.S., it's important to note that black citizens face a unique experience within America's criminal justice system, just as they've faced a unique state of affairs for centuries in the United States.
Dear fellow white feminists, we need to talk about Sandra Bland. More specifically, we need to talk about why we aren't talking about Sandra Bland.
Since seeing the Sandra Bland video, I've been asking myself what I would've done if I were in her shoes. In my mind, I hear my momma telling me, "That's why I always tell you not to talk back to authority."
The extraordinary writer, filmmaker, and professor is on a mission to reach all people -- many of whom may have never been introduced to the power of words, the power of literature.
"As women we always think, 'I want this. I want that.' I don't have a checklist. You all know me. You all know my personality. I'm like, 'Come on, Trump. Come on TV One. Find me somebody,' " she laughed.
Taping will start later this month, with the show set to premiere this fall, but, don't expect the show to be too similar to last season's competition.
"I think it's just different personalities, period," the Dayton, Ohio native said. "She's Omarosa and Toccara is Toccara. I think Omarosa's season was absolutely amazing, and that's one of the reasons why I signed up for this. I think I'm fun, outgoing, loud and spontaneous," she said. "I think these guys are going to court me and love me, and I just can't wait. That's my fantasy."
Toccara's last boyfriend was Atlantic Records President of Black Music Michael Kyser, who as of late has been rumored to be dating gossip blogger Necole Bitchie.
"Is he with Necole Bitchie?" Toccara mused. "I don't think he's with her, but he just told me that on the blogs they said that he bought Necole Bitchie some breasts. Does she have fake breasts? I don't even know. These people be making up these rumors."
Regardless of his relationship status, the buxom beauty still has a great deal of love and respect for Kyser.
"I think Kyser is absolutely amazing. Our relationship is and was absolutely amazing. He supports me in everything I do. Even with me doing this show now, he's very supportive to me as a friend, and I really value his advice," she revealed.
"He's my best friend. We talk about things. Even things that we don't want to talk about. We just have a really good relationship, and I think that's why I don't have any securities or anything. There's no need to. I'm single. He's single. He can date whoever he wants to date. I can date whoever I want to date."
When probed about whether she'd consider getting back with him if she doesn't find Mr. Right on television, she added, "I haven't ruled it out."
In her personal life, Toccara still manages to keep up with Banks "as much as I can" and a few of her 'Top Model' pals.
"Tyra is so much about her business and is so focused on her brand and everything, but she gives me great advice and is a great mentor. She never leaves me hanging. I love Tyra," she shared.
But she had no clue Tyra was currently enrolled at Harvard Business School.
"She's going to Harvard right now? She's smart, duh? She knows what she's doing," she joked.
"I think that 'America's Next Top Model' was such an amazing platform and opportunity for all the girls. I think we've all turned five minutes into an hour full of fame and have been very successful. Yaya [DaCosta] is doing her thing. She was just at my birthday in New York City and Eva [Marcille] is in L.A. and me and her still stay in touch, and she's wonderful," she said.
"But I think coming from where we're from, and of all the girls who have participated in 'America's Next Top Model,' and for you to be able to say YaYa, Eva and Toccara to stand apart from the pack is just absolutely amazing."