Monday, June 29, 2015

Please Call Me When The World Is Normal Again

No, really. Call me when it's ok to come out.

9 black people were murdered in during their bible study by unknown stranger they worshiped with for over an hour in a historically significant church in Charleston, SC.

Fierce debates over flying the Rebel Confederate Flag on government properties.

Walmart, Amazon and other retailer rush to remove Confederate Flag from sales lines.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds legality of Affordable Care Act. Again.

6 other black churches  torched across other Southern U.S. cities in the 10 days following the #CharlestonMassacre.

U.S. Supreme Court paves the way for same-sex marriage recognitions as federal law.

Bipartisan Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement passes almost undetected.


I'm gonna need another few weeks to process all that has taken place in the last 11 days in the United States of America.  In fact, I'm actually gonna take the rest of the summer "off." Well, not off from work or the major transition my family is embarking on in the next 39 days, but off from news and current events.

There is only so much an activist, Type A, do something gal like me can take. My head is literally spinning at all the information and endless commentary surrounding each and every topic listed above. My normal "to read" least is bursting at the seams and appears to be growing daily, yet my time to get to all that reading done seems to be shrinking.

A growing, thriving business to drive.

Public service in way of elected and appointed offices.

A weary marriage season.

Two amazing young people to shield from chaotic world and scary personal terrain.

An aching body and tired mind to keep sharp for all those things simply cannot process another world or current event in U.S. popular culture.


Please call me when the world in normal again.

Yeah, pretty sure my phone will never ring.

So, instead, I am implementing new rules for the remainder of this summer (or at least the next 8 weeks until Barreto kids go back to school). Only critical reading that will serve me, my family or my clients. Frequent walks in between all the hustle and bustle of my life. More time offline daily (haven't figured this one out yet but setting the intention and putting it into the Universe gives me a shot at reaching it.) More hugs. More conversations versus texts.

I feel better already having laid that out. I'd love to hear how others are coping this summer. Leave your thoughts below.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The One Thing That Burns Me Most About #RachelDolezal

Rachel Dolezal recently and a growing up
There are so many themes and story lines that have passed through my mind since the Rachel Dolezal controversy broke last week.


Deception by omission.


Mental illness.




But the one that scorches me the most is the fact that Ms. Dolezal's charade erases me.

Yes, the fact that Rachel Dolezal assumed the "life" of a Black American woman and "profited" from opportunities to use a platform to tell the her "story" erases mine - the actual Black American woman.

This is particularly hard for me to process as I have really been intentional the last year or so to bust the popular and accepted American narrative of the Black Women in America. You may or may not recall that I have been honored by two different Chicago suburban media companies in the last year for my contributions to business and my community. At both award ceremonies, I specifically spoke about the honor to be recognized with other talented women and how excited I was to get the chance to share my story as I did not see many stories like mine told growing up or into my early career life. I also challenged both homogenous audiences to lift up stories that were different than their own. I asked them to reflect on ways to make sure all American stories get told. In both cases, I touched a nerve and incited less than positive responses from people in the audience who could not resist the chance to challenge my point of view.

At the event last November, one woman, a fellow entrepreneur no less, took the liberty to point out to me that the lack of storytelling affected "all women." When I asserted that I understood that but that that America is particularly egregious in not telling the stories of women of color, she bristled and again, tried to correct me, in front of my child. Really? I stood firm in my position and politely brushed her off to speak to a true well wisher.

In May, a well suited man from my county asked me after my speech to give him - in 25 words or less an "example" of what I meant by it "being difficult to be different in McHenry County." When I did in less than 10 words, he challenged me with, "well that has not been my experience," to which I replied - "they were asking me about mine, sorry you can't see your story in my story, sir." He forced a smile and congratulated me on the award "anyhow." He literally said that.

Erasure is something Black American women face daily. We must battle just to exist because our very existence is unwelcome to many. Further, when we have the chance to get recognized for something and even more courage to tell our communities how we really feel, it is overwhelmingly well received because it is new and fresh story. For both those people who tried to erase me at the very ceremony created to honor me, there were dozens of people who applauded my bold declaration. Private messages and a line of people at both events thanked me again and again for telling my story but also thanked me for the reminder to them to make space for different stories in the Great American Narrative.

I don't begrudge Ms. Dolezal's positions or activism. It is welcome. But we need White women allies in the arena with us - not replacing us. We need the Rachel Dolezal's of the America to be fully who they are lifting our true stories to the forefront and not tainting them with fabrications. I applaud her trying to change the narrative for Black women in America but I rebuke her method of doing so.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

You'd Better Believe. Starting Now.

Pretty much all I've been doing the last 30, 90 or 253 days is centered around the seven letter word in the title of this post. defines believe like this: to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so.


That's been my life and I'd encourage you all to go there some day.

Go to that place where you actually allow yourself to "believe."

Believe your life can be what you want it to be.

Believe that your relationship "is what it is" and is time for you to let it go.

Believe that you can provide for your family doing what you love.

Believe you can turn a thought into a reality.

Believe there are people around you who care and want to help you.

Believe that "long shot" can be a sure shot if you just take action. 

Believe in yourself.

Believe in the good of others.

Believe people who act like they don't care

I could go on and on and on but I won't.

What I need for each of you in earshot to do is take this advice from me... whatever it is before you that seems impossible - go for it. 

Believe in yourself. Believe in the universe, or higher being (for me this is Jesus - but NO JUDGEMENT HERE - believe in something bigger than you because there is - know that). Believe in that tiny possibility.

The second you step out in belief, the universe will conspire to make it happen.

It's happening for me now and it can happen for you.