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My Top 10 People of 2016

2016 is finally over and there are some people who deserve recognition for their influence they’ve had in my life and undoubtedly the world at large. In no particular order, here are my personal favorite people of 2016.

1. Shaun King

Every single article or social media post that Shaun King writes is perfection. He writes for almost a million followers concerning social justice, politics and, of course, his love for his family. Within seconds of posting, his content spreads like wildfire bringing light and perspective to cases of injustice. I don’t believe Shaun’s intentions were to ever become a #blacklivesmatter leader in this capacity, but his passion and sharp writing skills have made him a beacon of hope and change  for so many activists seeking to be the change. Recently, he’s used his voice and deep desire for racial equality to create 25 solutions for police brutality and an injustice boycott for our generation.

2. KevOn Stage

Funniest guy in America right now, hands down. His YouTube and Facebook videos are the most relatable I’ve ever come across and for that reason alone he’s made this list. Seriously, just check him out. His work even made it to the Smithsonian. #Nayhoo

3. Sarah Bessey 

The word “feminist” puts a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. They shy away from the term like it’s Hilary Clinton’s pneumonia or Donald Trump’s tweets. But Sarah Bessey, filled my very being with the sweetest aroma in her first book, “Jesus Feminist.” I have never been so moved by someone’s writing in my life and I’ve always been a book nerd. This Canadian mother loves Jesus to her core and so eloquently tells about His goodness. She reminds us that God has a heart for  women’s issues, social justice, mothering, politics and so much more. When she talks about herself, she says that she is “liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal in matters of both religion and politics” and for that, I’ve never been more able to relate to someone.

4. Jarrid Wilson

In a world of technology and transparency, there are very few taboo topics, but sadly, depression and anxiety are still not often talked about, especially in the church. The church is supposed to be a place of healing and yet people who suffer from mental health-related issues still do not feel safe to talk about what they’re dealing with on a daily basis. Jarrid Wilson and his wife, Juli, have made it their mission to break down these walls. He is a blogger from the West Coast who has struggled with thoughts of suicide and acceptance in community for a long time. For a while, a lot of his blog posts were about relationships, but this year he has shifted towards sharing these more vulnerable parts of his life. He’s hoping that his blog, his story and his organization, Anthem of Hope, will raise awareness of these issues that are affecting so many and also equip others on how to love and help their loved ones that are going through similar hardships.

5. Beyoncé

I hope I didn’t lose you here. Beyoncé made it on this list for 2 reasons. 1) She has the best marketing team in the world. Just a few days before the Super Bowl she released a new song, Formation, that she then performed at the Super Bowl. And then, immediately after her performance, she announced her “Formation World tour” in the most epic of ways. She just has a way of dropping the mic, walking away, and leaving the rest of us inadequate human beings in awe. 2) She took a stand. Beyoncé has always had her beyhive, the most radical fan base this decade has ever witnessed. But she was willing to risk so much of her fame by standing against police brutality and standing with #blacklivesmatter this year. In the past, she seemed to be quieter on those issues, but it seems that this year she chose to step out with her Black Power fist and remind the world of who she is, where she came from and where she stands. I thought that was a powerful and creative way for her to use her platform and influence.

6. Ajay Nair

Society is pretty bored of the board of education, but Emory University’s Dean of Campus Life, Ajay Nair, has really livened things up. He has become one of the most relatable and dependable leaders in the collegiate sphere. He listens to the concerns of students and responds accurately. News outlets have been on the tails of universities as they combat injustices, sexual assault and so much more, but Dean Nair has never once buckled under the pressure. In fact, he defies the odds and publishes think-pieces with The Huffington Post, like this, as a voice for the student body, even if it goes against the norm.

7. Simone Biles

Let’s talk about this #blackgirlmagic. She is THE best gymnast in the world. Her success is personal for me because there was not a lot of representation in gymnastics when I competed, except for Dominique Dawes. Simone brings joy and spunk to the competition and America has not been able to get enough of her. In the midst of the controversy surrounding her Olympic counterparts, she always delivered with her performance and her bright personality.

8. Chance The Rapper

Even if you don’t listen to rap (that’s fine I love Tori Kelly and others too), the success of Chance is undeniable. He has been anti-labels from the very beginning and yet has managed to go on tour, win album of the year for his new mixtape “The Coloring Book” and make powerful performances on Ellen, Saturday Night Live, and Jimmy Fallon Tonight. On top of that, he made history with 7 Grammy Award nominations. Listen to him, his music is FREE.99 and is the perfect mixture of gospel soul and rap.

9. Tracee Ellis Ross

Not only would I consider Tracee to be #bodygoals, but she’s also crazy smart (*cough cough* she graduated from Brown University) and the first African-American woman in 30 years to be nominated by the Emmy’s for outstanding lead actress in a comedy. She shines as Rainbow in Black-ish and through that role, she shines a light on topics that most black mothers really do have to address like interracial dating, religion, police brutality, voting and getting into college. She’s also used her platform to empower women like she did at the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Awards, where she encouraged the women there that “we must remind each other that we are free, equal, worthy of respect and safety even if the world tells us something different.”

10. Van Jones

THE BEST CNN COMMENTATOR EVER. Reason #1: He’s taken initiative. He started a video series called #TheMessyTruth where he focuses on exposing the humanity of people from all perspectives and encourages others to listen even in the midst of disagreement. Reason #2: He spreads the truth in love. This was extremely necessary during this election season. He sat on the panel of other commentators and unashamedly told others when he disagreed, represented the thought process of a lot of his fellow black people and consistently surprised those that opposed them by listening and sometimes even agreeing with them if they made a good point. Reason #3: Again, he takes initiative. He matches his words with his actions and started the #LoveArmy. The #LoveArmy is an alternative to the hate and divisiveness gaining momentum in our communities and in our country. He believes that “despite our differences, our common pain should give us common purpose.”

11. BONUS – Kermit The Frog

How would we have made it through this year without a little bit of humor? Kermit has taught is how to properly sip tea, face our evil alter egos (aka “me to me”) and plenty other memes this year. We are so thankful. I’ll never overlook a Muppet again.




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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

“The Wait is the critical period between ‘wanting’ and ‘getting.’ It’s when you quiet your mind and trust God.”

DeVon Franklin & Meagan Good, The Wait


There are countless things in life that I’m still waiting for and sometimes that wait feels like an eternity. At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that the wait is always worth it. But the wait itself can be quite stressful. Whether you’re waiting to have a baby, waiting to hear back from a job or waiting to find your life partner, these 6 things can be a stress-saver for you in your “waiting season.”

1. Be productive.

Waiting doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing. Find opportunities to better yourself and work towards your goals while you’re waiting.  Take a class. Read a book. Join a fitness gym. Create a back-up plan. Research the skills you need to be successful and start acquiring those skills ASAP.

2. Get closer to God.

You may not have what you’re believing for yet, but you still have God. Trust that His plan and His timing is best. Spend more time with Him. Ask Him questions. Praise Him in advance. Pursue Him deeper. Getting into scripture provides you with the comfort you need to bring you though the waiting process and the ammunition you need to fight against the feeling of hopelessness that will definitely come your way.

3. Remind yourself that: Character > Titles

While waiting, it’s easy to get caught up in what others think about you. Let’s be honest, waiting isn’t usually pretty. When you had the titles, people adored you. They looked up to you because of your success. However, when those are stripped away or in the process of being attained, that’s when you need to take a good hard look at your character. If your character is strong, then people will still be drawn to you and you can still have influence. If your character is lacking, then the waiting period is a good time to search your heart and make meaningful adjustments.

4. Travel.

Now is the time to go on an adventure (or two or three). Do the things that you’ve always wanted to do, but never had time to. Go on a cross-country trip. Backpack through Europe. Go fishing. Go to a mall on the other side of town. I don’t care what you do just do something crazy. There’s no other time to cross items off of your bucket list like the present.

5. Visualize that your disappointments will turn into a dance floor.

Things might look downright crappy when you’re waiting. Everything may seem to be going wrong for you and right for everyone else. You may keep taking L’s and losing hope. So in those moments (because those moments will happen), it’s helpful to visualize how your test can turn into a testimony. What you’re going through in those ugly moments are only preparing the stage for an even greater victory. If you start to think about it that way, then you start to oddly become thankful for the disappointments because when you get what you’ve been waiting for, you’ll only have more reasons to dance.

6. Don’t rush the process.

Even if you feel like you’re ready to move past this season in your life, you actually might not be. Christine Caine explained it best when she said, “Taking a ‘step of faith,’ in a season when you should be staying where you are, with patience, can cause unnecessary detours and frustrations.” Sometimes it’s best to take your time with the waiting process. Let it refine you and fully prepare you for what’s next. I’ll say it again, Take your time in the waiting. It’s a precious yet painful season. But “beauty is pain,”they say. You have to endure a bit of a painful process to get the purest diamonds.


There’s a beautiful confidence that forms in the waiting. What you’re expecting may not be packaged in the way you’d like. It may not even arrive on the delivery date you expected. But when it arrives, you’ll know that it was all worth it. That everything worked together for your good. So in the meantime, you don’t have to worry about figuring things out on your own instead just enjoy the season that you’ve entered.

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God Sees Color.

A lot of people prefer to say, that they are “color-blind.” They claim that they don’t see the skin color of the strangers they pass by daily or the life partners they choose forever.

I see a MAJOR problem with this and here’s why.

Love transcends color, but it does not turn a blind eye to it.

If you love a person for all that they are, then that means that you have chosen to love the physical, spiritual and emotional components of them. You noticed their race, culture and ethnicity when you evaluated them wholly – and it’s okay to admit that.

Imagine for a second that you have adopted a child of a different race than you, but you’ve chosen to “not see color.” What would you do when racial injustice cases become more prevalent in your town? If you aren’t acknowledging the obvious differences and subsequent challenges that your child may face, then how would you be able to properly support and care for your kid?

Oftentimes, people use the verse Galatians 3:28, which says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile… for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” to claim that race and ethnicity do not matter, at least as it pertains to “the kingdom of God.” Although that scripture emphasizes the importance of us all being connected in spirit, it also acknowledges that in this world, those distinctions do, in fact, exist. What’s on the inside of you is the most important thing; however, your body and spirit work together to get your moving day by day. Therefore, we have to address both to properly function on this earth.

God said that each person is fearfully and wonderfully made.” He knew every detail of our lives before we even entered this world. He knows how many hairs are on our head. Why? Because he loves us and created us. Nothing gets past Him and He won’t ignore even a single part of His creation, especially if it affects the way some of His people are treated. He is the potter and we are the clay, which means every part of our being is designed carefully, lovingly and with a purpose, including the color of our skin. What kind of Father would God be, if He didn’t acknowledge the skin of His child that He was holding? What kind of artist would He be if He wasn’t intimately involved in each detailed stroke of his masterpiece? And if our body suits weren’t important, then what was the importance of Jesus becoming a man of color? (Yes. Jesus most likely had a little extra melanin, a somewhat brown skin tone. But do your own research. I digress…)

As Trevor Noah from “The Daily Show,” so eloquently put it in a recent interview, if you don’t see color then, “What do you at a stop light?” All this to say, it’s okay to acknowledge skin color. Sure, you can look deeper to what’s on the inside of the person, but if you really love someone (or honestly just want to be a decent person), then you cannot ignore a whole portion of their being, especially when it’s staring you straight in the face.

This world is so beautifully diverse and colorful. It was meant to be that way. However, one cannot even use the word “diverse,” if they don’t first acknowledge that there are different colors, races and ethnicities needed to constitute diversity. Furthermore, don’t confuse racial diversity with racial reconciliation. Racial diversity only provides you with the platform to initiate reconciliation. It’s up to you what you do with it.

So let’s embrace our colors, shades, races and all that jazz. God sure does and that’s a fact.

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Shattering 5 Stereotypes About The College Experience

Next to the prestige and academic environment, college is mostly associated with wild poolside parties, spirited sports events, and casual hookups. And because of that image, a lot of students feel pressured into fitting this stereotype in order to survive school and graduate with a high social status.

Well, I don’t think that has to be true. It’s possible to have a fully gratifying college career without fitting the stereotype. Let me break it down for you:


1) You do not have to drink or do drugs to have a good time in college.

Many people do drink and they have a great time in college, but it’s very possible to have a great experience without alcohol or other substances as well. I am big on “nights in” with my closest friends and I also enjoy dancing the night away. I can do both and still be sober, be social and be happy. It’s actually better, in my opinion, because I can remember my night clearly and know that I didn’t have to depend on anything but myself to have a good time. I get home after a party and I’m like “dang I’m fun.”

2) You do not have to join Greek Life to be popular in college.

Sororities and fraternities are just a couple examples of campus organizations that can provide a good community. Residence life, volunteer organizations, cultural and religious affinity organizations, intramural sports, student government, and many other groups can also provide a strong community and even a social status akin to that of a frat star (if you want that sort of thing). Do not think that there is one way to make an impact on your campus. Do what you love and through that you will find happiness and your niche on campus. I never joined a Greek community and instead became involved in a religious community, a scholars program and residence life. From those communities, I was named one of the top 100 students in my class and awarded with many other awards of excellence. I’m not using this as an opportunity to boast, but rather to ensure you that it’s possible and worth it to join or start clubs and organizations that align with your passions and interests and not just ones you think will contribute to your visibility on campus.

3) Spring Break does not have to be spent on a beach somewhere.

Go where your heart desires for your spring (or other) breaks. Take a road trip. Find community service opportunities. Go home. Amazing spring breaks come in all shapes and sizes. I went home for every spring break until my last spring break  when I was able to go abroad with my family for a vacation that was envied by many of my peers. Every break was super enjoyable and necessary no matter where I was. Besides, seeing all the same people from school amidst packed sweaty crowds on a beach doesn’t sound that relaxing.


4) Going to sporting events doesn’t mean that you have school spirit.

My university had no football. I was a cheerleader in high school so I thought no football meant no school spirit. But we were able to find school spirit outside of sports, we found spirit in wearing school apparel, reppin’ our first year halls in the most competitive ways, coming together for school dances and concerts and uniting in solidarity for common causes. So even if your university has sports, know that you can embody the spirit of your school in other ways as well.

5) You do not have to find your significant other in college.

This is a major key. Everyone has a different path. Some get engaged their senior year and others get married when they are 30, some have a few different partners throughout college and others stay single. All of these options are okay. Do not compare your relationship status to that of others and, most importantly, do not compromise or settle in your romantic relationships. You deserve the best. If you desire a relationship, everything will happen and fall into place at the right time.


There’s no right way to do college. Break some molds. Success looks different for everyone.