Tag Archives: Oprah

I Could Have Been Her. [Trauma While Black]

Every day on my way to work I come to a familiar (and awkward) intersection; finding myself face to face with the woman of “what could have been”.

Let me explain.

I work in a small town and often see faces of people from yearbooks past and find out what most I graduated with don’t – what happened to __________?! Back in college, one of my high school acquaintances and I became closer and began hanging out with each other more. This meant meeting each other’s families and knowing parents and cousins on a first name basis. I distinctly remember one special cousin in particular who would come up to the college to hang out in our rooms some weekends. Cousin and my friend were more like sisters really! She was still in high school (about 3 years younger than us) and I remember her being so entranced by the college life. She was tall, skinny and was a really pretty girl overall. She would LOVE getting into some of everything, asking a million questions and sticking her nose into everyone’s business. To her college was another world.

Well, as college progressed, my friend and I eventually went our separate ways and adventured into young adult life. This also meant we didn’t see each other’s families like we once did – including Cousin.

Fast forward 11 or 12 years, and notice a strange woman aimlessly wandering up and down the street not far from where I work. It’s common to see kids skipping school or people saving gas by walking, but I quickly noticed that this woman was different. Not wanting to be rude, I’d try to sneak a glance at her face, but it seemed every time I passed her on the way to work she’d be walking IN my direction, so I’d have to turn all the way around to see her face. One day, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and look around. What I saw broke my heart.

It was Cousin.

She had transformed into someone virtually unrecognizable. Her hair had been shaved. She’d picked up at least a good extra 80 pounds and she had the distinctive stare of someone who had suffered mental trauma. Growing up in and out of hospitals and meeting countless of my mother’s special education students, I have developed a knack for recognizing when something is “not all there” with someone. Cousin had that stare. Since then, I’ve studied her as I drive to work. I’ve even waved a time or two to no avail. Her blank stare and babbling otherworldly chatter leads me to speculate – what happened? What happened to transform this giddy, lively girl into a woman who may not even know where she is most times?

Did she have an accident where she sustained a brain injury that left her incapacitated? Did she have a surgery that went wrong? Did she experience a traumatic experience that triggered the onset of mental illness? Is she under a spiritual attack?!

Looking at her each week puts me into a reflective state of “she could have been me”. She could have been any one of us really. Think about your own life for a few minutes.

Have you experienced a heartbreak or trauma that could have made you “lose your mind”?

Were you ever involved in an accident or event where you could have suffered a brain injury?

Have you ever felt the weight of your problems plunge you in a spiritual darkness, constantly hovering over you?

The truth is YOU and I escaped those things. Cousin, unfortunately, didn’t.

Take time today to really check on your friends, families, and classmates. Offer them an encouraging word if you notice on social media (or in passing) that they are struggling with something. Encourage them to seek professional and spiritual help. Let them know that there is NOTHING wrong with investing in a therapist and spiritual counselor. There is still mass stigma in the black community regarding seeking professional help for trauma.  It’s one thing to not be able to afford it, it’s another to simply dismiss the benefit of it.

As long as I see Cousin, I will continue to thank God that while I could have been her, I am not her! I will continue praying for her…her family…that they get the answers and help they seek. I don’t truly know what had happened to her, but I pray whatever it is, she stays safe, that she doesn’t hurt anyone else and that we all count our blessings!

— Joc


ps. Here are some helpful recources for you if you want more information specifically catered for African Americans!

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/african-american

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culturally-speaking/201111/why-african-americans-avoid-psychotherapy

  3. https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/

  4. http://bridgehavencounseling.org/counseling/profile-of-omar-king/


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From Fatherless to Fatherhood — (Effects on Black Children) Joc’s Thoughts

Tonight I have been blessed to stumble across the gem “From Fatherless to Fatherhood” on ASPIRE and I am really inspired by it! The terrible part is that this film came out 3 years ago and I’m just now hearing about it — but better late than never in this case. This documentary (created by Kobie Brown) addresses some key truths when discussing how fathers being absent or present affect children and their own personal decisions.

The entire film (which is a little over an hour long) is weaving perspectives and raw thoughts and feelings of various men and women on fathers. There were women who admitted to making poor decisions because their fathers weren’t there. They found themselves living the stereotype of “the angry black I-Dont-Need-You independent woman” because that’s how they were FORCED to be by growing up in a household where the woman was alone and doing everything on her own. They also responded to men who say they choose to date outside of their race because they can’t deal with the attitude. One woman simply said that she and other women portray this stereotype don’t WANT to be like that but they never had their dad stick around long enough (or any man for that matter) so they are ready to fight and prepare themselves to do without men because they go into relationships already expecting to be let down.ESSENCE-Music-Festival-2012-ESSENCE-Empowerment-Experience-Speaker-Kobie_Brown

Black men, which included gospel star Kirk Franklin, were also interviewed and candidly stated that they got into trouble growing up because they didn’t have that balance from their fathers in the household. They were just big ball of emotions and didn’t know what to do with them all so they would act out in school, join gangs, or sleep around on women because they grew up not knowing how to be anything else! The same with the single mothers that were interviewed. They wished they had their child’s father in the household to balance their parenting skills. No one does anything perfectly — and aside from the obvious disparity that comes with a single income household, emotional balance is lacking in households with one parent.

Sex is the smallest part of a meaningful relationship; ESPECIALLY when it comes to having children. If you have a child with someone you can’t even get along with, you should really give your all in thinking if being physical with them is even worth it. Even if you’ve married and divorced — your kids still need to have that constant flow of love, nurturing, and attention from their fathers — from their PARENTS! “It’s easy to have a partner in parenting than trying to do it all by yourself.”

But the lesson that literally screamed at me while watching this film is this  — plain and simple. If you are a selfish person it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be a good parent…point blank AND period.

urbanworldfl2(1) w: bleedYou’re going to have to sacrifice some of YOUR comfort for your child. Your love for them should borderline exceed your love for yourself. You should want to see them succeed in life. Being a good parent takes discipline. If you are a father or mother, you need to be physically and mentally present in your kid’s life. Help them with their homework without having to be asked. Take them to the park to get some fresh air. Take them out for an ice cream cone. Turn on the hose and make a homemade sprinkler. Don’t make your children have to FIGHT to get your attention.

Yes it is true, I don’t have kids of my own and may catch some flack for this but I don’t care — I know PLENTY of grown folk in their twenties and thirties who are TERRIBLE parents! I don’t have to have children of my own to see the effects of a sorry parent or one who’s not present. I am the product of a two parent household where I have grown up seeing what a 30 + marriage looks like. I know FIRST HAND the benefits and differences that come when you have the balance of a present and active father in the household. Though my life hasn’t been perfect and I haven’t always gotten what I wanted, my father was ALWAYS there to give me little hints of wisdom, buy my favorite candy from the convenient mart, bring soup up to my room when I was sick, make encouragement cards to give me when I was feeling at my lowest, teach me how to ride a bike and roller skate — I am the well rounded, loving person I am today because I didn’t have parents who just stuck me in front of the tv, but actually INTERACTIVELY loved me.

I look at my life and some of my friends who have been forced to live in single parent homes and it, and always has, hurt my heart. Though we have all made similar mistakes, I know none of mine were because I didn’t have a father present in my life — it was because of my own strong will.

Watching this film has once again made me realize how thankful I am for my parents, but also stirs up some hurt in my heart because I know so many deadbeat fathers (AND mothers). It’s ridiculous.

And before I end this post I want to point out that being someone’s father or mother doesn’t make you a DADDY or a MAMA. 

If you would rather sit and daydream about “making it big” all day instead of help your child with their home work — you’re NOT present.

If you can spend money on clothes and trips and parties while your child looks like they’re one step away from the gutter — you’re NOT present.

If you spend more time with your girl, dude, or friends and always stick your child w/a baby sitter or in front of the tv — you’re NOT present.

If you can’t help your child with their homework or at least find a tutor and throw up your hands while they struggle — you’re NOT present.

If you give your child WHATEVER they want, just so they can “shut up” and “be good” while you sleep your life away — you’re NOT present.

If your kid is wreaking havoc on the mall or office and you don’t correct them YET talk about somebody else’s child — you’re NOT present.


The black community HAS GOT to do better about having good, faithful, strong fathers in the household or else this cycle will continue to repeat itself. 




** all photos courtesy of the film and film’s website



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Do Better. Be Better. Live Better.

– Joc

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Let Me UPGRADE Ya…wait, ain’t nobody got time for that!

So if you haven’t gotten up on Paul C. Brunson (modern matchmaker/life coach) you should. I was reading this around lunch time in which he spoke on the terrible misconceptions of ‘upgrading’ your significant other.

According to him these are the: “Reasons why Michelle didn’t fall in love with Barack’s potential and why you shouldn’t settle for potential either.”

Falling in Love with Potential is a Mistake!

Posted by: on Jun 7, 2013 | Falling in Love with Potential is a Mistake! 

I told the moderator of a panel I was on: “falling in love with potential is a mistake.” The moderator looked at me like I was crazy. He gave me the side-eye and said: “I don’t agree at all, Michelle Obama married for potential and look at her now.”

My jaw dropped to the floor, what a ridiculously misinformed comment.

The truth of the matter is when 25 year-old Michelle Robinson met 27 year-old Barack Obama he had the following in his favor:


  • Harvard Law graduate (a distinction they shared)
  • Former Editor and first African American President of the Harvard Law review (a much sought-after position)
  • Considered by many at Harvard Law and his new law firm to be a prodigy
  • Summer associate at a prestigious corporate law firm (where Michelle worked)
  • Shared values (discovered by Michelle’s time mentoring Barack at the firm)
  • Athletic and avid basketball player
  • Single and available…HELLO!

In other words, he had it going on. BIG TIME!!!

I won’t argue he didn’t also have a bright future ahead but no one can say he wasn’t compelling upon their first introduction.

This is my point, if the person who stands before you today isn’t compelling, don’t gamble your life on their potential to become compelling.

Also, don’t waste your time!

So often I see good-willed people focus much of their energy on attempting to “rescue” or “upgrade” their partner. They give unreciprocated time, love, money, energy, and advice. I’m sure you know someone doing this right now. If so, do them a favor and have a good Come-To-Jesus talk with them. The truth is they’re not in a relationship, they’re working on a science project. They haven’t fallen in love with the man/woman, they have actually fallen in love with the “ideal” of the man/woman. This is dangerous, simply because often times the “ideal” is never realized.

Having a healthy relationship with your partner means loving them for who stands before you today, not the hope of who they will be tomorrow.



Case made. Where’s a gavel when you need one?! If you want to read more from Paul for yourself, check him out: http://paulcbrunson.com/2013/06/falling-in-love-with-potential-is-a-mistake/


– Joc

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