Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Prelude to REST...I chose a pillow over a champagne toast

It is January 3, 2023, and I am extremely grateful to God for allowing me to see another year.  

New Year's Eve has always been an event in my family. As a little girl, I entered the New Year praising God, we called it Watchnight Service.  Growing up in a Black Pentecostal church, I thought it was just a religious service where we ended the year thanking God and began the new year thanking God.  Every choir would sing, the praise dancers did their number, people gave testimonies and we'd have our revivalist close out the night preaching and prophesying. Then we'd go to someone's house afterward to eat and continue the celebration.  Little did I know that my future husband spent much of his youth doing something similar in his Black Baptist context. After every new year, I quickly realized that none of my friends, from other cultures, brought in the new year quite the same way. They only partied! It wasn't until years later that I learned the historical significance of this "Watchnight" service.

History lesson time (Come on, you know me):

When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation (September 1862) it was not enacted until Jan.1, 1863, New Year's day.   The night before,  enslaved Africans in Confederate states, stayed up all night in their homes or places of worship and 'watched the night' until dawn which marked their freedom. This night has also been called "Freedom's Eve". (Note: The Emancipation Proclamation was intended to free only enslaved Africans in the Confederate states. It was not originally intended for those states who remained loyal to the Union. In 1865, the 13th amendment to the Constitution was signed by Lincoln in January and ratified by the states in December.) We'll continue the history lesson later.

Fast forward...

Since my husband is a Pastor,  we brought this tradition to our church.  We would begin Watchnight service with praise & worship, listen to member testimonies, Byron would preach and we would close out at midnight "praying in" the new year.  Then we would all enjoy food, in the fellowship hall, as a church family. This is all that our sons ever knew, until the pandemic.  We strategically moved everything online to stay connected to our folk.  The pandemic, however,  has taught us that people move differently when it comes to church, which is totally fine. Our love for Jesus has not changed, but we have found other ways to stay connected and fellowship with friends and loved ones.  This year, rather than do the same thing for tradition's sake, we created a church Zoom, where folks could jump on and give their testimony.  #connection  We held the Zoom call at 7pm to allow people to be with their church family before hitting the streets to go party or hitting the bed to sleep.

I chose to sleep!

But there is a back story to my sleep choice and it's called REST.


A couple of months ago, I began listening to an audiobook entitled, "Rest is Resistance".  Each night as I prepared for bed, I would listen to at least 20 minutes until I dozed off.  One of the things that kept coming up for me was the idea that African American women have been conditioned to be busy.  Michelle Obama, in her book, "The Light We Carry" (I just finished the hardcopy.) mentioned the same thing....the pressure to be at the top of your game because "all eyes are on you".  Black folks are put under a microscope.  Many times when walking in a room, people actually think, "I wonder how she got here...who does she know or what does she do?"  Let's be honest, It can be a room full of white people, sprinkled with a few persons of color, and many of us will think, "hmmm, I've got to know who that person is...it's like having a mythical unicorn in a room".  (Deny it if you want to, but I know you've thought that at least ONE time in your life. It's okay, I'm not judging you, because I have fallen into the same trap and oftentimes I am considered the unicorn. Ha!) Moving on...

So this idea of rest had been percolating in my mind for the past couple of months.  Only in my mind, because physically I was not resting.  Working the ministry with my husband meant that when the pandemic hit, we did not chill like many others, but we (our sons included) created a platform where our church family and people across the country could stay connected with us and be encouraged during times of uncertainty. (For 2 years, our home was a production studio!) Both of us have this crazy work ethic and hearts to serve, so it was instinctive for us to push harder, many times to the point of exhaustion. 

Any time someone would ask what I did for a living, I would simply reply EVERYTHING.

On Monday, I was at one location. Tuesday and Thursday I was at another location. Wednesday was a totally different location. Friday was supposed to be my day of rest, but I was still corresponding with students, and organizations from the other days.  I did all of this daily work, while still reading, studying, and writing as a Seminary student. (What the what, and why?) The weekend was not a reprieve for me because church work usually happened on the weekend, as we would prepare for the Sunday morning worship experience.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the chaos. (or at least, I had grown accustomed to it)  I was able to compartmentalize everything. "If it isn't your day, you don't get any play" or "I'm off the clock" is how I navigated the various spaces.  Oftentimes, when I arrived home, if everyone was home I felt like I had to keep moving. Only if I was home alone, I allowed myself couch time but jumped up when I heard the garage opening.  I didn't want them to see Mommy or Wifey as lazy.....it's that doggone Black woman societal conditioning again. Ugh!

Back to the percolating...

These two books began to rearrange my thoughts and overall body chemistry. There was a slow and steady shifting of priorities that was taking place. I was becoming a bit more reflective and began to make decisions that made me feel better.  I was still moving hurriedly from day to day, but I could feel something brewing inside of me.  A prelude to REST! The week before the Thanksgiving holiday, one of my "days" asked me to commit to another day of the week. (#ScheduleChange) I went home, thought about it, prayed about it, and decided that NO! is a complete sentence.  I tendered my resignation the following week.   I didn't have things figured out yet, but as soon as I chose ME, I began to feel more grounded. Rather than continuously floating from day to day, job to job, I had begun the process of anchoring myself to REST and stability.

Even as the Christmas holiday approached, I told my husband that I did not want to travel, I simply wanted to be in my home to REST. I was content in being in the same place and space for a couple of weeks to give my mind/body a chance to recover from the chaos and busyness to which I had grown accustomed. I probably should have been a bit more specific! I was forced to REST because I  ended one year and began a new one at home, sick with COVID. Ha! God has jokes! (this is why the pillow was the best option for me)

So this year, my word is REST!  By the way, REST does not equate to sleep!

I am currently listening to an audiobook, "Sacred Rest" by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith (Come on Sis...an African American female internal medicine physician. She speaks my language!) She writes about seven components of REST.....mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory, creative, and physical.  Finding this book, after the other two, was a Godsend!  This is the perfect way for me to begin the year.  I had already told my family that I was going to take FB and IG off my phone for January.  #SocialMediaSabbath so that I was not inundated with other folks' stuff before I could even form my own thoughts. (I will be intentional as to when I engage on social media platforms and not look at every notification.)

I declare REST in my mind....think higher thoughts of myself and others. I am worthy!

I declare REST in my body...actually listen to what my body is telling me. Know when to get up and exercise, but know when to take a seat.

I declare REST in my daily work activities...I begin this new year with one job where I show up Monday-Friday, in a sunlit office, still helping students, but differently. (Okay... I'm still an adjunct professor, so 1.5 jobs. Ha!)

I declare REST and restoration in my finances...make more mindful, budget-friendly purchases.

Oh and by the way, in the middle of my REST revelation, I was invited to speak at a women's conference in May... "Embracing the Sabbath as Sacred: Leaning into Rest, Restoration, and Rejuvenation".  The conference will be in Cancun, Mexico. Now that's some REST right there. (Look at God!!! Ladies, as soon as I get the registration information, I'll share it with you.)

My REST revolution had been brewing for months and I wasn't even aware of it.  God was orchestrating things behind the scenes because I have always tried to remain open to the possibility that God was going to blow my mind.  In this instance, God was shifting things strategically, working behind the scenes, and causing unrest in my spirit so I could be open to the idea of REST. 


So, what God has God been showing you? What has your gut been telling you to do? That uneasiness that you feel could be the Holy Spirit telling you that there is something more. I say trust your gut, trust your instincts, trust the Holy Spirit.....even when those around you do not understand your reasoning for switching things up. This is your narrative...your testimony...your blessing!  

I choose REST, what do you choose?

Now walk it out...

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Spectrum of Allies - Education is a Social Justice Issue

I am currently a student in Seminary working on a Master of Theological Studies. One of my courses this semester is "Theology and Social Justice." Each of us had the opportunity to determine which social justice issue mattered most to us. My social justice topic of choice is education. (If you know me, you ALREADY knew this.) Throughout the semester, we discussed social strategies, including Saul Alinksy's Rules for Radicals, The Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change based on Dr. King's nonviolent campaigns and teachings, and Mutual Aid. We furthered the conversation by identifying the tools that best address our social justice concern. 

Two strategies discussed were Pillars of Support and Spectrum of Allies.

The Pillar of support is a tool to assess the power structure and the organizations that support them. The Spectrum of Allies is a strategy tool that examines the range of social groups and forces from active supporters to most vigorous opponents. I chose the Spectrum of Allies because, with the correct information, we can convince local churches that every Black and Brown child is our mission. Before we try to get kids to live right, I want to ensure that every child can read, write, and have a positive self-image.


Equity and access to a good education are social justice issues. During the pandemic, we realized the importance that local agencies, churches, and community centers could play in ensuring that no child went without access to Wi-Fi and learning capabilities. During the Fall 2020 school year, I served as a site coordinator of one of the Community Hope Centers, where local churches partnered w/ Urban League OKC. We ensured that students received daily affirmations and support before starting their studies. Posted around the facility were quotes of promise, determination, pride, and power meant to encourage and strengthen every person who entered the facility. We recognized that Social Emotional Learning was imperative for each young scholar's success. Research shows that when a student feels supported emotionally, it directly affects how the child learns.

Since my husband pastors a local church in Oklahoma City, I have access to knowledge regarding how the church functioned during the pandemic and how it reemerges post-pandemic. From 2020 to early parts of 2021, most of the local churches closed to their congregations, except for Sunday morning worship. Many of the local churches owned a dormant fellowship hall or community room for much of this time. Our church partnered with the local Urban League through the Cares Act funds, called Community Hope Centers, served families and proved the value of churches partnering to meet the community's needs.

I can love the church and criticize the church at the same time. Too many local churches are more concerned about church membership, viewership, and getting people to "get right" to enter heaven. We miss the importance of meeting the needs of families and children now. Many of our Black and brown students in OKC attend schools with low reading and math scores, and we expect them to grow up and compete with kids with access to more resources. What could this mean to students when this becomes important to ALL of us in the community?

During and after slavery, Black folks were not allowed to read. They understood the importance of education, so they formed their schools.' Religious institutions established schools or provided general education in Sabbath schools, which often supplied the only educational opportunity for African Americans. It was here that students learned the academic fundamentals. Yet, it was also where they received emotional support and an expectation for excellence.

I contend that local Black churches need to be concerned with the educational success of our Black and Brown students. Most recently, OKC passed one of the most significant school bonds designed to take care of the building and grounds. Most local schools that educate Black and Brown students received refurbished gyms or walking paths. We can agree that newer facilities are valuable to the student's physical abilities. Still, the community needs to invest in students' academic success.

This is where the Black church comes goes into action!

What would it look like for EVERY local Black church surrounding the nearest school with support? What if we opened our fellowship hall doors twice weekly to ensure children had snacks, free Wi-Fi, and a place to complete their homework? How could weekly tutoring help our students? We could enlist retired or senior members to work in the reading room, where they read a book for 20 minutes. High school and college students could serve as tutors or mentors while gaining community service hours. I can imagine looking around the room and seeing positive statements to keep our young scholars engaged and motivated.

An African Proverb says, "It takes a village to raise a child." The goal of community partnerships is for everyone to participate in the process of building a stronger, more productive community. Whether it be churches, synagogues, mosques, or community centers, I believe every child would benefit by having the community invested in their education. We are all stakeholders in the education of our youth. 

So, where do you stand? What is keeping you or your church from partnering with the local school? Come a little closer to the action and help join this education revolution.

Education is a social justice issue!

Now, walk it out.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Redecorate your room with a YES and a NO!

Wow! It is already December 5th! 

The year 2022 has been a year of growth for me. I have learned the power of my Yes AND the power of my No. 

Oftentimes we miss opportunities because No is our default response. Either we do not view ourselves as capable or we are held captive by the familiar. We say things like, “this is just the way I am” or “this is how I have always done it.”  Just like that favorite chair that you have which has the indentation of your back side, after years of sitting in the same spot. You enjoy a good cup of tea, while sitting in the chair. When you sit down to enjoy a movie, you can swing your legs to the side, curled up underneath a warm blanket. This same indented chair cradles you every time you take a seat, at the end of a long day. It still matches the room decor, so it is not out of place. It is simply comfortable.

Then one day, you happen upon a furniture store and realize that there are so many other chairs that could match your room decor. Some of the chairs are shaped differently and have different textures or features, but you get a glimpse of the potential of taking one of these new chairs home with you. You even get excited because you imagine how this chair could brighten the space at home and give it a fresh look; until you look at the price of the chair and realize that it costs to take that chair home. Being the cautious individual that you are, you quickly talk yourself out of it and go back home. No impulse shopping today!

You are proud of yourself because you dodged that bullet and saved money! Kudos to you (and your financial planner) because that new chair was not in your budget. As you drive back home, the thought of those new chairs quickly leave your mind, and you move on to the next thing. 

Everything is fine, until you go back, sit in your familiar chair, and realize that the groove fits you a little differently. Although still perfect for the space, you notice that it leaves your posture tilted just a tad. You realize that you must kick your legs up to build enough momentum to work your way out of the well-worn indentation. “Hmm, I hadn’t noticed this before” you say to yourself as you remember the plethora of chair options in the furniture store. Night after night, you go back and sit in the same comfortable chair, but you begin to imagine what one of the newer chairs could add to this room. You wonder, “if I say Yes to this new chair, what will I have to say No to?” You even begin to count the cost of how much those furniture store chairs might set you back. You start calculating how you can save money by not eating out as much, instead deciding to make morning coffee at home or by packing your leftovers for lunch. In your mind, you begin to move the existing furniture around to see if you can create a fresh look for the room. You can hang pictures on a different wall and rearrange the existing furniture to set a different tone for this space. You oscillate between should I or should I not, until you finally take the leap and say Yes.


When I said Yes, at the beginning of the year, I did not realize that I was saying Yes to thinking and moving outside of my comfortable chair. With that Yes, came a renewed confidence and the power to change, control my narrative, and rearrange my entire room decor. My Yes allowed me the ability to not be afraid to stand on the wall and speak truth to power for myself and others.

Yes, to embracing the kids of color in the community, who are lagging academically, and creating programs to help parents who need an advocate.

Yes, to calling our legislators and legislation to the carpet when their policies do not support the well-being of children. 

Yes, to speaking up for myself even when others did not understand my moves.

Yes, to self-care which in some cases involved sitting outside soaking up the sun’s rays in stillness.

Yes, to not being ruled by fake fears.

Yes, to trying new things. (Go with your knees knocking, but by all means…GO.)

Yes, to trusting my gut! (You never lose when you bet on yourself and God.)

But with that Yes, it was also imperative to recognize when saying No was expedient.

I said No to being defined by others.

No, to being paralyzed by fear.

No, to simply going with the crowd. #IndependentThinker

No, to viewing myself as small and insignificant when I KNOW that I am greater than my wildest imagination.

No, to allowing the expectations of others dictate my actions or decide my outcome.

No, to allowing the enemy to wreak havoc over my mind, my family, or my circle of friends.

No, to looking outside of myself to confirm my worth. (I am more than enough and so are you!)


There is power in your Yes AND power in your No!

When you tap into your light and allow it to shine brightly, it will illuminate your path and guide your forward movement as you begin the redecoration process.

No to fear and Yes to faith.

No to mediocrity and Yes to marvellousness.

No to the opinions of others and Yes to the omniscience of God.

No to insecurities and Yes to your imagination.

Throughout this year, I have rearranged the furniture in my room several times. Last year, I sat comfortably in my chair with the familiar indentation, simply happy to be alive and surrounded by the people I love. But this year, I began counting the cost of what saying Yes AND No could mean to the decor of my life. 

Even as we began rearranging furniture to make room for this years' Christmas tree, I realized that I must let go of some things to make room for the new. There are two pictures that I took down off the wall by the tree and I have already decided that when Christmas is over and the tree is down, I will not put them back on the wall. I think I will leave it bare until I have a different vision and new direction for the wall space. I want to cultivate an area that suits my new mindset. (Someone else might call this decluttering.)

I invite you to take this last month of 2022 to be reflective and reevaluate the decor of your room(s). What have you closed yourself off to because you have become so comfortable with the familiar? What opportunities have you missed out of fear of making a difficult decision? There are some things to which you need to say NO immediately because they will not serve you. Yet there are plenty of options to which you should just say YES, trust your gut, and grow with God.

Recognize your genius and the light you possess inside and allow that to be your guide.  Redecorating your room does not mean that the old furniture is bad or of inferior quality, it just means that you have a new vision of how you choose to navigate your existing space. Your Yes has opened you up to more options!

You cannot say that you want more out of life, yet keep relegating yourself to the mundane out of fear. I encourage you to stop by a furniture store this week, find a chair, close your eyes, and dream a new vision for yourself.


Now walk it out…….…2023 is on the way.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

15 by 51

I know you are wondering; what does 15 by 51 mean? 

If you divide 15 by 51 it's a rather small number, 0.2941176471.   If you multiply 15 by 51 it equals 765.  Someone might try to figure this out and say, "Maybe she is building something with total square footage of 765.  What could she be doing?" 

Ha, I know you are trying to figure this out. Let's explore...

Last year, during my 50th Birthday gala, "Celebration of Sisterhood", I encouraged the sisters to "be the light". That means showing up in a room, not intending to change or convince anyone to do anything differently, but your mere presence shifts the atmosphere.  The light and aura illuminates the room without you ever having to open your mouth. But Baby, when you do open your mouth, you speak truth to power and bring light to every situation.  That has been my mode of operation over the past year. 

 And here's what I really like about shining your light...

My light doesn't put your light out.  It merely accentuates what you already have inside of you.  We shine together!!!  This is why I am very intentional about encouraging other Sisters.  I am neither threatened nor am I discouraged, by noticing the accomplishments and growth of other women.  And if they are younger than I am, I really want to pour into them by modeling authentic celebration of another woman.

Because I was intentional regarding shining my light, doors opened for me this past year that allowed me to have a lived experience.  I've been asked to preach in some great pulpits, speak up for others on various platforms, ran for office and I've been engaging with others on so many fronts just because I dared to shine my light.

Well now it's time to set another intention, as I make my way to 51 in August.

Have you ever complained sooooo much that you have grown tired of hearing yourself talk about it? No one else is talking, but the voice in your head just complains on loop. You understand, right?!  Well, it's time to finally shut this voice up!  (it's so unnecessary) You have seen me this past year cruising on my bike or walking around the neighborhood (RIP Arby), I have slimmed down a little and my legs are pretty strong, but tthefat has shifted in my upper body. Go figure!  My belly and doggone back fat have appeared with a vengeance and they are quite proud of themselves. Ha!

I know that maturity has a way of slowing down metabolism and raising cortisol levels that help us to store fat, but (geesh!) that doesn't mean that I have to accept it!  This sister is not going down without a fight.  The fight is first in my mind, then it will reflect itself in my actions. In fact, the shift happened this morning.  I found an exercise program/ channel that I like on YouTube and I made myself get up and go to the "workout room" that we created during COVID. (Yes, I have everything I need in my own house. Don't judge me. Ha!)   I can literally go to the other room in the morning and do a 20-minute workout without even thinking about it.  If I go to the gym, swim, ride my bike or go for a walk, that should be the added gravy to my exercise intention. The next step is to champion my nutrition; not with a diet but with intermittent fasting and eating more REAL foods, as opposed to junk food fillers.

So I am calling on my fitness and nutrition oriented Sisters to shine your light this way. I'm going to need encouragement along the journey!!!  You are my accountability partners. (Don't bash me or I will mysteriously delete your phone number. Ha!)  Know that I have seen your social media posts and YOU have already encouraged me to strive for better in this area.  Thank you!

So back to the 15 by 51...

I am setting the intention to round out year 50 by losing 15lbs by my 51st birthday. (August 15th)   I already know that I CAN do it... ability is never the question.  The concern is whether or not I will make the necessary changes to meet my goal.

 Today, I have already made a few very important steps: 

1. I got up and exercised,

2. I drank plenty of water,

3. Fasting until noon, and

 4. I put my business in the street by informing you... now I have to be accountable. Ha!

Share with me what your intentions are for the rest of the summer.  You may have set a different goal for yourself, but I'm sure that you can always use a little encouragement.  Let's keep each other lifted in this journey, we call life.

Now walk it out....

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Could this be a prime example of voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of Black citizens?


Please note that I didn't write this to say that I deserve the Board seat over my opponent. Mr. Anderson is the new OKCPS Board of Education District 5 member, and I called immediately to congratulate him. In fact, I intentionally waited to publish this information until he was officially sworn in, so that he and his family could enjoy the process.  I wish him nothing but success moving forward!  


My name is Dr. Sharri L. Coleman (you already know me) and this has been an amazing 4-month journey.  I have been in education and have served the OKC community over the past 20 years. When introduced to the idea of serving on the OKCPS Board of Education, representing District 5, I LEAPed with anticipation. It was an opportunity to have a seat at the table to ensure that the majority of Black & Brown kids who make up this community would have someone who could articulate their needs and the needs of the schools they attend.  When I learned that the district lines had moved 3 blocks east of my primary residence, I obtained a lease on a second residence that was within the lines of District 5, where I am a registered voter. It is legal to have multiple residences in the State of Oklahoma. Thus, I filed, knowing that my opponent would have an opportunity to contest my candidacy.  He did not. Therefore, I proceeded with my campaign. For months, I raised funds and campaigned prepared to serve the eleven schools within District 5: Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Thelma R. Parks Elementary, Rogers Elementary, Shidler Elementary, Spencer Elementary,  Willow Brook Elementary,  FD Moon Middle School,  Wheeler Middle School, Classen School of Advanced Studies High School at Northeast,  Douglass High School and Star Spencer Mid/High School.

Note: Only an opponent has the ability to contest candidacy within a certain time frame. (2022 Board of Education Candidate Filing Packet: Contests of Candidacy.)

However, Rebecca Budd, who is not a resident or registered voter of District 5, disagreed with my decision to run and rigorously worked to end my campaign. Ms. Budd was elected to the OKCPS Board of Education in 2017.  In October 2021, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction announced that this individual would serve as Chief of High Performance Systems and Operations for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). However, none of her current professional capacities include certifying the eligibility of candidates.

Timeline of events for my campaign:

  • When I announced my candidacy via Facebook in November, Rebecca Budd messaged me and questioned my District residence.

  • There was no need to respond to her, because she was not an opponent. (I received numerous messages via social media that my campaign team advised me not to respond to.)

  • I learned that she called both the Chair of the Board and another School Board member regarding my residency. She was told by both individuals that they would allow my team to take care of any issues and not get involved in this matter.

  • I publicly shared my candidacy filing at the County Election Board on Dec. 8th via FB Live.

  • The County Election Board informed me that my residence could be contested.

  • My opponent had until Friday, December 10th at 5pm to contest the filing.

  • He did not contest.

  • I persisted, campaigning effectively throughout January and February.

  • At the beginning of March, I received a call from Jessica Sherrill, the General counsel for OKCPS. She left a message stating there were questions regarding my candidacy.  This is not in her job description. On OKCPS website, Ms. Sherrill has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies and discrimination complaints of students and personnel. (Who had given her, an OKCPS staff member, the authority to call an OKCPS Board candidate? Isn’t this considered unethical?)

  • Due to what I considered an improper request, I chose not to respond and was advised to save the voice message.

  • One week later, the same individual called again and I saved that recording, as well.

  • I continued working the campaign by fundraising, canvassing and connecting with the community.

  • One of my LOKC classmates had planned to host a fundraiser for the campaign, but was discouraged after receiving a call from Rebecca, the State Board of Education staff member. 

  • Another classmate, who did not learn of these inquiries from me, sent me an email suggesting that I respond to the inquiries of the OKCPS General counsel. (Apparently, I'm a popular woman. Ha!)

  • In mid-March, I was informed that someone from the Oklahoman newspaper was writing a story questioning my residence.  She went to both of my legal residences, talked to neighbors and contacted my leasing agent. 

  • After a week or so, I received a phone call from reporter Nuria Martinez-Keel. We had an interview regarding my platform and I shared with her how much I wanted to be of service to the students in District 5.

  • On Tuesday, March 29th, I made the front page of the Oklahoman, not regarding my platform, but questioning the legitimacy of my candidacy based on residence. Later, I was informed that this same State Board of Education staff member made the call to the Oklahoman.

  • Knowing the rules, I chose not to respond to the article.

  • That same morning Barry Mangold, of Channel 9, reached out for an interview. 

  • By 5 pm, Barry was at my doorstep.  He spoke to my husband who told him that we had multiple residences and advised him to watch the forum, hosted by the Urban league of Oklahoma City, later that evening.

  • Barry watched and reported on the 10 pm news. 

  • Questions, innuendos and rumors initiated by Rebecca Budd and generated by the news media continued to circulate about my candidacy eligibility.

  • On Saturday evening, another digital article from the Oklahoman came out regarding my residence, again authored by Nuria.

  • Saturday, Sunday and Monday during canvassing, I repeatedly had to defend myself and explain to the constituents who read the article or saw the news report that I was indeed a registered voter and resident of District 5.  They didn’t understand why I hadn’t responded to the story, at which time I explained that there was no need to give an account to individuals outside of our community. 

  • On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, I lost the election by only 58 votes due to low voter turnout. (There were 2 or 3 precincts that had no voters. Ouch!)

The goal in writing this timeline is to showcase the unethical behavior surrounding this election from outsiders.  Although my actions were called into question by the State Board of Education employee, I followed the necessary steps to ensure that I could serve the 11 schools within District 5, none of which was contested by my opponent.

The unethical behavior of the State Board of Education staff member and the OKCPS general counsel member must be addressed by the State Superintendent of Education, Joy Hofmeister and the OKCPS Board of Education. On the morning after the election, Nuria wrote yet another article NOT simply congratulating my opponent for winning, but glorifying the misinformation provided by Rebecca Budd.  The skewed nature of Nuria’s reporting confirmed a serious agenda to block my campaign or to disparage the reputation that I established not only in my community, but throughout the City, over the last 20 years.

I am not concerned about the election loss personally, but we all must recognize that this behavior is a prime example of voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of Black citizens.  The failings of this campaign cycle are not a reflection of the two candidates. We were amicable and competed honorably to win the votes of the people. This campaign was about ONE white woman who attempted to control the narrative of an entire Black community and students within the eleven District 5 schools.  Now, the time calls for someone to investigate the intentions and actions of Rebecca Budd and those who aided her.

Questions to address:

  1. Is it common practice for a State Board of Education employee to interfere with a local school board election by contacting individuals to question the current candidate? (i.e. newspaper, LOKC members, and school board staff) In an official election, does the Oklahoma School Board of Education override the procedure of the Oklahoma County Board of Elections?

  2. Is it common practice for general counsel of a local school board to reach out to a candidate running for school board? Did she contact both individuals campaigning?

  3. Under whose authority did general counsel act? 

There are upcoming local elections in June, August and November and all of us must be certain that this type of questionable behavior is not able to continue, especially when it impacts communities of color.

I will continue the work of educating our community and serving students.


Isn't it funny that you never know what's really happening behind a beautiful smile?!  I wouldn't change this campaign experience for the world.  I have learned so much and gained greater insight into what makes me tick, so I can appreciate how I have been called to navigate the space that I now occupy.  I'm reminded of Mordecai's words to Queen Esther, "You have been called to the kingdom for such a time as this".  A reminder to her to complete what she was placed there to do.  

Today, I fully understand that I wasn't called to this position, I was called to purpose!

Now walk it out....

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

October 6th is Mommy's birthday

Today, Mommy would have been 83 years old.  

This summer,  I purchased an airline ticket to go to Philadelphia just so I could place flowers at her graveside.  Daddy used to always take her flowers on their anniversary, her birthday and at least every other month.  After he passed, I was able to go back that first summer and give them both flowers.  Well, the pandemic shut all of that down, so I was excited about having an opportunity to travel again and pay my respects to both Mommy and Daddy.

After purchasing my ticket, something happened with the flight schedule and Southwest changed my airline ticket.  I wouldn't have arrived until late this evening and it would have been too dark to navigate through the City and a cemetery.  I wrestled with it and finally cancelled the flight since the purpose was to be there on her birthday.  So today I can't say that I was sad, but I was disappointed and just felt slightly off.  I just wanted to be quiet and reflective.  I got up and rode 5 miles on my bike this morning,  but outside of that my energy level was not where it usually is.  

The year Mommy transitioned, she would have turned 75 years old.  That year on her birthday, I mourned the fact that I didn't have the chance to celebrate such an important milestone in her life.  I felt like I had waited for the 'big' number to celebrate her, but was heartbroken when I couldn't show her how much I appreciated her. I'd waited too long!  (Don't get me wrong, I loved on her everyday and she knew it, but 75 is just so huge that I wanted to express how I felt in front of everyone. ) I would have wanted her to feel like a queen on her special day.   I believe that's the reason why it was so important to put together a team and plan my own 50th birthday celebration this past August.   I didn't want to miss another milestone or to leave it up to someone else to plan.  I did for myself, what I couldn't do for her.

My Celebration of Sisterhood 50th Birthday Gala was about me, Yes......but it was also about Mommy.  She loved to encourage women and my goal was to make certain that EVERY woman felt special that night in August.  She was a church girl,  but she loved to see others have a good time; so the African dance segment would have made her smile and shake her tail feathers. My mother was pure joy! She would pray with and for you, laugh with you, give you great big hugs,  and call you Shuga.  I am blessed to have been born to the wonderful, Nelda J. Mattison.  These days whenever I pass a mirror, I see her profile.  When I look back at footage of myself leading praise & worship, I get tickled because I notice her mannerisms. (Mommy was smooth with hers though, she could have been a lounge singer.  Daddy used to say that she crooned.). In my encouragement of others, I can hear her whispers in my ear.  That woman was my #1 cheerleader!!!  

If she were here today, she would make sure that I was taking care of myself and not doing too much.  If she were here, she would cry and praise God with every one of my accomplishments.  In fact, she'd probably go crazy every time I went LIVE on a social media platform. "Look at you Baby, you are doing it.  You sound like you know what you're talking about". (I'm sniggling & giggling right now, as I'm typing.)

As I look back at my birthday photos, I see Mommy strutting her stuff (in high heels, of course).  The joy and sense of freedom I felt was a result of years of her pouring into me.  She made certain that I didn't allow my insecurities to keep me fearful and unable to move forward.  In fact, around her I had no insecurities. I was free to be my authentic self! Honey, if she could see my bald head today, she'd kiss it, anoint it with blessed oil and say "get it Girl".  No mother-daughter rivalry here, just love and respect!!!! You may have never met my Mommy, but as I get older, I am meeting her again for the first time.  I am Mommy and she is me!  Happy birthday Mommy!  I didn't make it to Philly to give you flowers, but I can smell the flowers in my garden bed and think of you!

I'm sharing my entire birthday photo album with you so you can see the joy of the women and my own joy as we celebrated one another.  My joy is her joy, which boils down to the joy of the Lord!

So to all of you reading this, don't wait until the 'big" milestones to celebrate, learn that every DAY is BIG and worth celebrating.

Now walk it out....

Click HERE to view my full BD photo album.

Friday, July 16, 2021

I am not my hair! BUT at the same time, I am.

A few months after Daddy died in January 2019, I noticed that my hair stopped coiling the way I liked.  There seemed to be breakage or damage at one spot.  I have worn a teeny-weeny afro (TWA) for years, AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT, so my hair has been short for quite some time.  I thought the hair breakage was just due to stress and grief, until I noticed periodic itching and burning of my scalp. After visiting a beautician, who specializes in natural hair, she parted through my hair and discovered little white bumps all over my scalp. It looked like a teenager with bad acne, but on my scalp instead of my face.

She mentioned that it was probably folliculitis brought on by hair products which attract dirt and then styling it with a sponge used to separate into coils. So, I changed hair products and began to finger coil instead.  It offered some relief, but the symptoms eventually came back.  I transitioned into a protective hair style for 6-9 months, which helped me to keep my fingers out of my hair. In April 2020 of the pandemic, when everything was shut down, including all the beauticians, I took the protective hairstyle down myself and dyed it a strawberry blond color.  You could not tell me anything! The lack of hair manipulation had been good for growth, and I loved my new length, but again I noticed a small bald spot smack dab in the middle of my head.  I thought perhaps I had cut my hair by mistake when taking down the hairdo.  After only a few weeks, the strange coil pattern and thinning resumed. Ugh!

In February of this year (2021), I visited a black, female dermatologist who specializes in ethnic hair. She performed two biopsies of my scalp and the results confirmed that I have Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA).  CCCA is a disease characterized by permanent hair loss in the crown region of the scalp, inflammation, and scarring. It occurs almost exclusively in black women aged 30 to 55 years. What the what?!  She mentioned that once a scar forms there is permanent hair loss in that specific area. So, what is a girl to do?  Dr. Allen believed that we caught it in the early stage, so we began treatment immediately. (Please note there are different types of alopecia, so it is best to have a dermatologist diagnose it to begin the appropriate treatment.)

I am currently taking an antibiotic for acne and using a specially formulated prescription strength Minoxidil cream that comes from a pharmacy in Florida. I have also endured two series of steroid injections throughout my scalp and along the hairline. So, now we are just play the waiting game. I became so frustrated recently because it appeared that the initial spot seemed to be filling in, just as another bald spot developed in the front. Even as I type, I can feel my scalp itching in certain areas, due to scalp inflammation.

For the past two weeks, I have wrestled with the idea of getting braids, but that's not the best option right now.  Although braids are another type of protective style, if braided too tightly can cause a totally different problem, namely traction alopecia.  Although I am NOT my hair, I must admit that my coiled hair is a major part of who I am; and when that is not right, feelings of insecurity creep in.

It is the craziest feeling. Insecurity that is!

I do not care how confident you are, when there are issues with your crown, you tend to feel just a little different.  I considered the song by Indie Arie, “I Am Not My Hair”


She said it like this:

Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? Oh
Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity?
I am expressing my creativity

I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations, no
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within

But honestly, you do not come to this conclusion and assuredness until AFTER you have dealt with the insecurity that accompanies bald spots or thinning or whatever the hair issue. I decided rather than cover my spots by getting braids or another “protective” style, I would focus on getting my scalp healthy devoid of underlying inflammation. (I told my husband that he might have to get used to seeing his wife bald, if I actual decided to shave it off.)   Well, a sister did it…. I SHAVED MY HEAD TODAY!  My beautician said that the thinning spots actually had hair growth/peach fuzz, but it just looked like a major bald spot because the hair around it was full.  So, I told her to give me a buzz cut and a little bit of color…. And just like that, I decided to start over. No more unnecessary manipulation of my hair; just time to let it rest and grow back evenly.

I could not hide from the reality that my body had given me messages that something was not quite right internally. Rather than run and hide from the signals, my aim is to be consistent at tackling the root cause.  That means that I must increase my water intake, keep taking the acne antibiotic as prescribed, continue using the prescription cream and cut my hair short to cut down on hair manipulation. I think I might even do a 3-day cleanse, beginning Monday, to rid my body of toxins. The body is a magnificent machine that gives you warnings that it wants better. My scalp wanted better, so I decided to respect her needs so my hair can come back stronger and healthier. 

When I began twisting my hair many years ago, my grandmother said to me, “Oh baby, I like that…you have such a nice, shaped head”.  Well Granny, everyone will now have the opportunity to see this awesome dome for a while. 

As I approach 50 years of age (August 15), all the words of affirmation that I pour on others, I will bathe in as I allow myself grace to change and grow.  For now, I am bald and beautiful!  If/when my hair fills in, I will still be pulchritudinous.  My beauty does not originate from external factors, but the very core of my existence is light and beauty.  Fifty is coming in like fire, because I have set it ablaze!

So, embrace ALL of you are with or without make up; with or without hair; lean or fluffy; short or tall.  You have such a beauty that beams from the inside and lights the path of everything and everyone around you. Alopecia cannot and will not define me.  I will continue to strut my stuff with a bald head, a good pair of earrings and a bold lip.

Now walk it out…