Friday, May 21, 2010

When one door closes ...

Since losing my job at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about 15 months ago, I've had doubts and sometimes allowed fearful thoughts to dominate my day. Part of this has been spurred by utter frustration. I was fired because I accepted an invitation from an international anti-poverty, empowerment organization to travel to Washington DC. Apparently the fact that I went without my editors' permission was reason enough to dismiss me.

At the time I considered it a blessing. I sincerely believed that it was indeed "our time" to bring about the change many of us had hoped. I turned down the union's offer to fight for the job. I felt it was time to move on and join a revolution inspired by Obama's election. It was our moment, I believed, to revitalize long-ignored urban areas and develop sustainable templates for reform and self-empowerment. There were dozens of promising initiatives already in development. A responsive administration, a leader with a resonate heart and vision was the only missing component.

I'm not sure if I was naive or if despair and negativity is just more powerful than "hope and change." Either way, the progress I imagined has been stalled by the health care reform debate, antagonistic forces dueling over the need for a "black agenda" and a tide of paranoia, racial hatred and fear.

At the age of 53 I have learned that the journey is not of my dictate. Still, I get frustrated. At times, I worry about my future as a writer and a contributor to change.

That's why reminders are so important.

This morning while trolling the web, I came across the interview below with Garrard McClendon, host of Chicago's Garrard McClendon Live and Tom Burrell, author of Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority and .

The interview took me back about 15 months when Burrell called the same week I learned of my termination. A year prior to his call I had researched material for a chapter in Burrell's book. He called me in April 2009 to see if I could recommend a writer who could help with the final stages of the book.

Needless to say, I had someone in mind.

Thanks to Burrell, when the Post-Dispatch door closed, I was offered entry through another. Thankfully, I'm still working with Burrell, meeting and interacting with engaging and progressive "world changers." We are currently promoting the book and working on the Resolution Project, Burrell's nonprofit established to counter destructive media and images with a barrage media-savvy, positive and uplifting material. I'm also elbow-deep in and learning what it takes to succeed in the ever-changing, fascinating world of publishing.

At times, I am frustrated with the slow momentum toward urban reform. I am afraid that ignorance and fear will effect the 2012 presidential election and our "moment" of great change will be further stalled.

However, as I watched the online interview with Burrell and McClendon I was proud. Brainwashed was Burrell's passion for more than 10 years. He believed he could make a difference and, as McClendon points out in the interview, people are inspired and responding to his message, buying and sharing the book and vowing to change how they view, participate and perpetuate media-instigated negativity.

This morning, I was reminded that I do not dictate the path. The challenge, I think, is to survive while loving, learning and growing. Like Burrell, our mandate should be to do our dead-level best to make a difference, no matter how small, while we're on this planet.

This morning, I am not frustrated. I am empowered.