We need to put abortion back into its context, which is the lives and bodies of women, but also the lives of men, and families, and the children those women already have or will have.
I've never been very good at saving. I'm a spender -- shoes, trips, nights out, you name it. It's a fact that became especially apparent to me when I found myself saddled with $10,000 of credit card debt after graduating from college.
Everywhere from pop culture to the hood, men are either consciously or subconsciously telling black women they aren't "wanted."
Last Monday I was arrested in Ferguson, Missouri, along with dozens of other clergy, seminarians, and people of many faith traditions. As a white, middle-aged, married, mother of three and a rule-abiding Presbyterian, this was a new experience for me.
This is political gamesmanship of the lowest order, playing on media and public fears over a legitimate and terrifying health crisis, to again belittle Obama. And with the stakes sky high in the 2014 midterm elections, the dirty political pool by the GOP was totally predictable.
Fellow graduates of historically black colleges and universities, we can and must come to the aid of our institutions while there is still time to make a difference. Fiscal insolvency and the loss of accreditation are two insurmountable challenges from which I have not known any institution to recover. What follows are some concrete steps we can and must take to support HBCUs.
If scholars and adherents of Vodou are to be believed, consistent portrayals of 'voodoo' practitioners as barbaric, violent and most of all as African-American, not only influences public perception of our religion, but perception of African-Americans.
Dr. Gloria I. Joseph has a treasure trove of memories of the renowned Audre Lorde, her late partner. Joseph's long-awaited new book, The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde, gives us a rare glimpse of Lorde, as told by people who knew Lorde or whose work was greatly impacted by her.
Back in 2009, I traced the then-new First Lady's family tree back four or five generations on all branches, but of all the ancestors I uncovered, it was a great-great-great-grandmother named Melvina Shields McGruder who captured my attention.
The reality is that most black colleges have not accepted sexual identity diversity as an issue with which they need to be concerned. A number of reasons have been suggested -- among these, a level of social and religious conservatism within the black community.
While it is true that, by far, the overwhelming percentage of black people in the South were doomed to spend their entire lives in slavery prior to the Civil War, it is also true that a small percentage lived as free citizens. And some were even able to prosper.
The leadership dilemma for HBCU presidents is that of broadening access while also advancing high academic standards and strengthening outcomes. The data suggest that this will be a steep climb for most HBCUs.
Bleak numbers surround the national high school dropout rate. Many of society's other problems -- like unemployment, poverty and overcrowded prisons -- can all be linked back to the individual decision to quit high school.
It is my hope that all black students make it a priority to address these type of issues on our campuses. Do not compromise your beliefs or your black experience for the pretense of neutrality.
Even though there are a few ways you can try and accelerate the process, it takes time to build credit. Credit cards can be one of the best ways to do so, and if you commit to using them properly, it can be worth the time you spend strategizing.
As I begin to look forward to what awaits me in the Motherland, my Facebook timeline and social media accounts are filled with ignorance and caution about any and everything African.
Being black or brown isn't the problem. Neither is my childhood dream of having a house full of black and brown babies. The problem is white supremacy. I don't mean the still-dangerous KKK or Aryan Brotherhood. The white supremacy I'm talking about is much quieter.
So exactly how does one go from being a back-up singer for Mary J. Blige and Diddy to presiding over the hit TV judge show Paternity Court? If you're Lauren Lake, it starts with your upbringing.
BlackVoices.com: Let's talk just a little bit about your appearance on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' When you saw the episode air, what was your reaction?
Iyanla Vanzant: I was very happy about it because I believe that it was an opportunity to demonstrate to the world what is required to heal a breakdown in a relationship. Many people have relationship breakdowns and that's what we had because of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
BV: What was the reaction from some of your close family and friends when you told them you were making that step to reconcile with Oprah?
IV: Everyone was grateful because it was something that I had prayed about and really wanted to clear. I care a lot about Oprah, and she's my sister in the spirit. She's been very supportive of me and my work. She taught America how to say my name. There was a breakdown between us, so everybody was happy that we had the opportunity to clear that up.
BV: When you made the decision to do the show, did you think it would be such a major media event? You had two episodes...
IV: The first and only person in her farewell season. But, no, I didn't think about that. I didn't go on Oprah's show to go on Oprah's show. I went on Oprah's show to heal a breakdown in a relationship. It just so happens that she was courageous enough to do that in front of the public. So, I wasn't thinking about it in those terms at all. It just unfolded that way.
BV: Did you have any reservations about how the fallout would be revealed and that it might be slanted toward her side?
IV: When you talk about healing, you can't talk about what it's going to look like (laughs). You just have to be open to however it shows up, and I think that people are more caught up in "Oh, that's Oprah Winfrey. That's Oprah Winfrey," and miss the point that we are two women that needed to be reconciled. That, to me, is where we need to be looking and not at the fact that it was done on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Did people miss that?
BV: I think so. But you were so vulnerable and open?
IV: No. She was so vulnerable and open because she didn't know what I was going to say at all. If I had never spoken to her, I would have been okay because I have peace within myself. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to understand what she was thinking and feeling. We both had a very different experience of what happened and that happens all the time. I heard her one way and she heard me one way, and neither one of us got the full meaning of what the other person was saying. She thought I was giving her an ultimatum. I thought she was kicking me to the curb. She had a special regard for me, and I thought she just wanted me on the show because I was a good guest. There were things we just didn't meet on, and I can only take responsibility for my role in it. I can't take responsibility for her role in it, so I'm glad we got to clear it up.
BV: Watching the episodes after they aired, did you feel exploited in any way? They had you looking real crazy in some of those clips.
IV: I know television. I know what brought all those eyeballs to that screen that day was the fact that they thought it was going to be a juicy catfight (laughs). Had we said, "Watch this show and learn how to heal broken relationships in your life," how many people do you think would have come? It was a difficult conversation. I don't think it was a pretty conversation, but I think it was an authentic conversation. You got to remember we talked for 90 minutes, you saw 48.
BV: Why did you let them put you in that hat and that coat walking through the woods?
IV: Let me just say, that is a handmade Italian coat. It is a beautiful coat. Now, the hat just didn't go with the coat, but it was five degrees outside. I really didn't care what I looked like. My goal was to be warm. I had on a sweatshirt and two sweaters and I had to feed my birds. My birds were hungry.
BV: The good news is that your appearance likely helped with landing 'Peace From Broken Pieces' on the New York Times Best-Sellers List. How do you feel about that?
IV: I'm grateful I have always enjoyed tremendous support from the public. I think what being on the show did was let people know that the book was out there because you reach more millions of people being on that show one time than you do with all of the ads and the interviews you could do over the world. So, I'm just grateful that people still want to work and they recognize the value in my work.
BV: Would you do another television show similar to your previous talk show, 'Iyanla'?
IV: Well, no, I'm a different person and that is what the book is about. It's about, "How did I get to be different" and "What did I learn in that process?" so I would never do what I did before. Would I do television again? Absolutely. But, since I am a very different person, my goals would be different [and] my requirements would be different. What would be the most fulfilling for me would be to have an opportunity to share with the world, particularly our community of people, the knowledge that I have gained in 28 years of doing this work. People of color are dying of everything, and we don't have to die, we don't have to suffer. Whether it's on network or cable, it has to be about leading our community. My heart is with the African-American community to a place of healing. Foolishment, as Mama Odie says in 'The Princess and the Frog.'
BV: Have you run into Barbara Walters recently?
IV: Not at all.
BV: If you ran into her, what would you say?
IV: Hi. How are you? What do you mean what would I say? I don't have a significant relationship with Barbara Walters. I had a significant relationship with Oprah Winfrey.
BV: Why did you write the book?
IV: I wrote the book because Tavis Smiley told me I had to write it. I was resistant to writing it. He told me that he was going to make me a deal that I could not refuse, and he did make me a deal that I could refuse. He offered me an opportunity to share my story in a very large way. He offered me an opportunity to earn an income at a time when I wasn't working, and he reminded me of my commitment and responsibility to healing the community and he fed me. He gave me food. He took me to a very nice restaurant. I love food.
BV: You were at the top of your game with a television show, New York Times Best Sellers; people definitely want to know, how did you go broke?
IV: I had a daughter who suffered for 15 months of colon cancer in a country that does not think health care is a major issue. I didn't spend my money on jewels and furs. I spent my money taking care of my daughter for 15 months. She wasn't working. She had a daughter. She had a mortgage. She had a car. She went through a series of alternative health-care processes, which are not covered by health insurance. So, I used my money saving my daughter's life.
BV: In terms of you getting to a peaceful place with your daughter's death, did you have one moment when you realized you have to come out of the dark and get your life back together?
IV: I don't know if it was one moment. Grief is a very powerful emotion, and as part of the natural grief process, you get to a point where you realize she's not coming back and what am I going to do? I had friends and people who refused to let me stay in a place where I couldn't continue in my life's purpose. That, I think, is what did it. This portrayal that I was rich and went broke. No, I spent three quarters of a million dollars trying to save my daughter's life.
BV: Have you been in any situation recently where you come into contact with some crazy mess and you handle it with such grace that you shock yourself with where you are in your life?
IV: Yes. Last week, when I went through the airport and they decided they wanted to feel me up because I could have been hiding a bomb in my bra (laughs). And I resisted the urge to curse somebody out. I think that was a demonstration of how I've changed.
BV: You've always told it like it is, but that must come from your past, with being abused, losing your mother at 9; how often are you approached by people who share with you their personal stories and how you have helped them get through something?
IV: I don't count, but there are stories. I'm just grateful that people trust me enough to share their stories. Every e-mail, every call, every letter, every gift. I honor it, and I value it. There are people who would love to experience the level of regard and respect that I have in the public, and I don't take it lightly at all.
BV: At one point, you were overweight and you spoke about how black people are dying from all types of illnesses they don't have to die from. How do you physically stay in shape and proactive with your health?
IV: I don't know that I was ever overweight. I guess I was more substantial than most women, but as a black woman, you know we don't run a traditional size. I am a conscious eater. I don't eat red meat. Weight is a state of mind. It just shows up on your body. I think the more we heal the burdens of our pathology, the easier it is to stay in shape. I don't carry burdens. I don't carry shame. I don't carry fear. So my body just responds to that. Most of us are not overweight because of what we eat. We are overweight because of how we think.
BV: You are a fan of some of the reality television shows, like 'Project Runway,' 'Celebrity Apprentice' and 'Top Chef,' do you watch 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta'?
IV: I don't watch anything that denigrates women and, particularly, black women. I have seen some episodes, and I just felt that it was very disparaging to us. So, I don't watch that.
BV: Are there any shows on television right now about black people that you love or some that you want to see on television?
IV: We're kind of having a black-out. We don't see a lot of good positive stuff. There is some stuff on OWN that I watch and I appreciate, but it's kind of hard right now. I think that OWN is still developing. I think they are finding out their footing and they had to open up with something. I think the presence of celebrities is what they are using to bring viewers to the network, but I think eventually they are going to do fine. I really do.
BV: You've accomplished so much already. Just being back in the public light, what are you looking forward to doing the most that you haven't done yet in your career?
IV: What I haven't done is retire, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to be more present for my grandchildren. Hopefully be in a loving, nurturing relationship. I'm going to do my scrap booking and make my soap. I'm having real fun doing that and whatever else shows up.
Iyanla Vanzant's 'Peace From Broken Pieces' is in bookstores nationwide now.