Sunday, May 12, 2013


I want to tell you a little story about a woman that I know named Naomi.  I had the pleasure of meeting her many years ago, and my memory of her is one of strength and perseverance.  We’ve had many conversations over the years; conversations where she actually invited me into the inner recesses of her life.
She didn’t think that there was anything overly extraordinary about herself.  As a matter of fact, she describes herself as being just another working mother that was out there trying to do the best she could.  But as I listened to her recite the high and low points of her life, it became crystal clear that she wasn’t the average black woman.

She survived a physically abusive marriage.  She told me that after the birth of her third child, she realized that things weren’t going to get any better for herself and her children, and it was in that realization that she summoned the courage to pack their bags, hop on a Greyhound bus and leave the man that she loved…the man that had become everything except the man that she thought he would be.  She went on to say that she willingly put her life on the back
burner, opting instead to raise her sons the only way that she knew how.
When she left, she didn’t have much money, but she had family, and it was in the love of her family that she took solace.  She strove to make sure that her sons never knew that they didn’t have a lot.  Never a day went by where they didn’t have lunch money.  They went on class trips, proms, dates – and she filled their lives with many happy Christmas’s and memorable birthdays.

Throughout all that, she admitted to me that there were many nights that she had cried herself to sleep because of her loneliness, but she hid her pain from her sons.  She said that it was her love that she wanted to share, not her pain or disappointment.
She told me that she wanted to instill in each one of her son’s a strong sense of pride, placing particular emphasis on family.  She said that she wanted them to remember family because in this day in age, sometimes family was  all you had.

I was floored because the more that she talked, the more she struck me as being the exception as opposed to the norm.  She hoped that the day would come when life would become easier for her sons.  You see, she knew that as black men, life wouldn’t be easy for them.  She tried to prepare them for life’s realities – that opportunities to excel were not always readily available for African American men.  And although I have a tendency to agree with her, there’s something that we both notice in this day in age; something that we didn’t expect to see in our lifetime.

There’s an upsurge of pride that has taken root in the African American community.  It has remnants of the pride that black people carried with them when they marched with Dr. Martin Luther King during the turbulent 60’s era.  Black celebrities are finally stepping up and becoming leaders in their communities; lifting up their brothers and sisters instead of making it and then basking in their own success.

Celebrities like Tyler Perry create plays and movies that deliver long overdue messages of empowerment, love and forgiveness…messages that speaks to the core of our very being.  Celebrities like Tavis Smiley who constantly tackle political issues that are relevant to our community.  Celebrities like Tom Joyner who created Black America Web which broadcasts stories of interest as it pertains to black people.  Michael Baisden who has a highly publicized radio talk show that addresses topics of interest pertinent to not only black people, but to all people.

We never thought that we would live to see African American people attempting to help one another in a public forum.  But now we are, because with every charitable act, every broadcast, every fundraiser, I realize that I have a shot at being anything that I want to be.  I can actually believe without a shadow of a doubt that I can become anything – as long as I work hard and persevere,

I’ve never been more proud to be a part of a race of people that have been repressed, persecuted and subjugated into slavery.  I’ve discovered that part of my character is being African American, Negro…Black.  I’ve embraced my rich heritage willingly and lovingly because people like Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Michael Baisden and Naomi make it so easy for me to do so.

And although I may never meet Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey or Michael Baisden, I have met Naomi, who by far is the brightest star out of all of the celebrities that I’ve mentioned.

You see, Naomi’s full name is Naomi Olivia Whitehead – my mother…and being African American doesn’t get any better than that.


  1. An outstanding tribute to a much loved and respected Mother. You are a lucky man Jerome.

  2. Res...thank you! My mother is amazing. She raised four boys to become strong men with the help of her family which is a true testament not only to the content of her character, but to saying that it truly does take a village to raise a child.