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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A LETTER TO MY BROTHER

July 28, 2017

A Letter to My Brother:

So yesterday (July 27, 2017 but it'll be August 9, 2017 when you read this) my mom sends a text message to my brother and I saying, "Prince Williams is looking for a Communications Director."  At the time, I brushed it off and giggled.  Later that day, at a family prayer vigil that you put together for our cousin Boo who was in the hospital in the ICU (she's out now!!), my mother brought up the text message she sent earlier that day.  I said, "I saw that" with a slight laugh and you said, "yeah, I saw that too. You(mom) sure have a lot of confidence in me, but I wouldn't want to go over there anyways."

For some reason I woke up with your response, "you sure have a lot of confidence in me" heavily on my mind.  I don't know why but your response bothered me.  I thought to myself, "why couldn't you be the Communications Director for Prince William?"  "Why are you selling yourself short?"
I wrote this because I BELIEVE IN YOU! I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF!! I'VE SEEN YOU IN ACTION!!!  I know that since you've graduated from JCSU with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications things have not panned out the way you envisioned they would.  You've struggled with inadequate employment, unequal pay, discrimination in conjunction with life's everyday struggles and yet you still rise above it all and keep on keeping on.

If I were to take a screen shot of your life, it would be filled with the joy on other's faces when you're in their presence.  The lives of the youth you've mentored.  The people that you've prayed for to have a relationship with the LORD.  The passion and the drive that you put in every job that you do.  The moments you make people laugh.  The assistance that you give to your grandmother.  The love you have for your family.  I could go on and on because that's just how GREAT you have been thus far in this thing called life.

I want to encourage you to continue to do those great things and be the inspiring person that you are.  I also want to encourage you to level up! Every level in life requires us to dig deeper, be disciplined, be consistent, be diligent, do away with the old and welcome in the new in our pursuit to greater heights.  Even though things get tough, I know you are tougher.  I never want you to have a response that seems like you're second guessing yourself.  Yes, I sure do have a lot of confidence in you! If no one else in this world believes in you, you know me and moms ALWAYS gotcha!  Greater things are on the horizon for you and they couldn't go to a more deserving person!

Just sending a little love and encouragement on your special day.

Happy Birthday!

Love Always, Keisha

Thursday, July 7, 2016

THEY WON'T CALL IT MURDER

Yet another one! and within 24 hours there was another one!!  I didn't want to comment on the death of Alton Sterling not because I don't care but because I'm TIRED, TIRED of seeing and feeling the pain associated with yet another B.LACK MAN SHOT & KILLED at the hands of the Police.  My silence however, was short lived because within 24 hours or less Philander Castile, another BLACK MAN was shot and killed and I couldn't stand by and remain silent on a matter that affects my race, my community, my family, me, and the society in which we live.

It has been more than clear to me and everyone watching these videos of Black men being attacked and killed by police officers all over this country, that there is no regard for Black lives in this country.  I clearly don't need to reiterate that fact though.  But what isn't clear to me is how there are so called "good officers" within the respective police departments that stand by and see the modern day genocide of a human race take place and not stand up for what's right!  It's even more disturbing to me when BLACK Police Officers sit back and watch these murders take place and not take a stand.  Is the bond between police officers more worthy than life itself?  Especially the life of another African American?  Let me be clear, no life is more worthy than any other rather you're black or white, however, there are no killings of unarmed, innocent, legal gun carrying white men and children being killed at routine traffic stops, disturbing the peace calls or at the park playing with a toy gun.  So anyone that may have the inkling to think I'm saying anything to the affect that if it were white men being killed it would be better, you can blow it out your @ss!

How can a Black Police officer sleep at night knowing that another Black man, Black woman, Black teenager or Black child be killed for no reason at all and not take action!  Did they lose their morals, their values, their worth as an African Americans first and foremost when they took the Oath of Honor and replace it with the Blue Wall of Silence?  Perhaps they don't want to lose their jobs, I mean they do have to take care of their families right? And if they speak up and speak out they will be ostracized and be fired.  I get it.  No, I don't get it! We need "good Officers" especially the "good African-American" officers to fight that battle from within the walls.  To fight for not just what you signed up to do, but fight for what your ancestors died for you to do.  Perhaps it won't get real enough to fight from within until something tragic happens to one of their family members at the hands of a fellow police officer.  Will you then stand up?!

It has been said that things would be better if the Officers wore body cameras, maybe these incidents wouldn't occur so much.  That's a joke. Some police departments don't even have them and it's been rumored that some even turn off their body cameras.  Before technology became so advanced lets remember that Rodney King was brutally attacked and beaten; every strike, kick, blow and punch was caught from a helicopter aerial view back in 1991 and we saw what happened there. Nothing.  The Officers got away with a brutal beating on camera.  They just increased their attacks and went a step further to murdering on camera knowing that the results would be the same.

What about these news outlets?!  I can't stand to continuously hear and see the depressing news of violence in our communities and society plastered all over the news and social media outlets as it is rather depressing and does affect my psyche.  What I do notice is that the coverage of these incidents is rather Bland.  What I mean by that is, there is a 1-3  minute coverage of each shooting and it's on to the next story.  The news that no charges will be bought against against Hilary Clinton gets more coverage than the two men that were clearly murdered by the hands of law enforcement within 24 hours.  If people were rioting (which I don't condone) there will be all types of national, local and breaking news coverage of a local store or a national chain being burned down and the reckless behavior.

Something has to give. Regardless of race, we as morally, ethically, loving and caring people can not continue to to allow these murders to happen.  If you see injustice in what's occurring and not taking a stand than you too are part of the problem.  If we are not speaking up, speaking out and taking action then nothing will get resolved.  Especially, African Americans. We have to band together because the attack on our existence is real.

Praying for the Sterling, Castile and the hundreds of families affected by killings at the hands of law enforcement. Praying for every Black Man, Woman, and Child walking God's green earth that may ever encounter law enforcement and that the encounter is conducted safely and you walk away still breathing.

Peace,
Unique Vizunz

Monday, June 27, 2016

Honor in Today's Society

"If Honor were profitable, everybody would be honorable."-Thomas More

Have you ever wondered what it costs for people to be honorable?  Within the past two weeks, I have experienced a very honorable situation, only to be followed by a less than honorable deed.  I was in one of my favorite stores, the beloved Wegmans, picking up a few items after an unusually early morning start to my day, in which I had to be somewhere by 5:30 am.  Not to mention the fact that   I had been suffering with a summer cold from being in out of air conditioning buses, but I digress.  So, as I am picking up items in Wegmans, at some point I dropped my keys and didn't even realize it.  As I got to the checkout line, I discovered that my keys were missing! I go into panic mode because the keys of  course are for my car and residence.  I quickly pay for my items and go back and retrace my steps. I already had it in my mind that I was SOL, but before cashing out the cashier reminded me to check with customer service as someone may have turned them in.  So, with no luck retracing my steps, I wander hopelessly over to the customer service desk to see if anyone had turned in a set of keys. And to my surprise and relief, someone did! Boy was I thankful!! I realized humanity isn't so bad after all!

Fast forward to this past weekend.  I made a quick stop in a neighborhood store before heading to church.  I run in to pick up something for a headache and a granola bar.  I had my phone in my hand and sat it on the counter beside me as I paid for my items.  I walked out of the store and of course left my phone behind. However, I didn't realize that I left my phone until I arrived at church, parked, and went to grab my phone and it wasn't there. I thought, there is no hope in this scenario and that I was definitely SOL, but I'm going to go back anyways as I maybe pleasantly surprised once again and someone could have turned it in.  So, I quickly (but safely) race back to the store and ask the clerk did someone turn in a phone and just as I suspected the answer was no.  To be honest, I was more upset with myself for putting it down and leaving it than I was that someone had decided to pick it up and walk off with it like it was theirs.  I had to quickly come to terms with where I left my phone and knowing that my chances of it being there was slim to none. No need to cry over spilled milk. I had to chuck up my losses on this one.

Two similar situations with two completely different outcomes.  One in which there is hope for mankind and the other showcasing that we still have a long way to go.  It doesn't matter where you're from, how much money you have, what your ethnicity is, what religion you follow or whatever label is placed on us as human beings, what matters is how we view and treat one another.  As with anything it starts with how we view, love, trust, and treat ourselves.  If honor doesn't hold any value to you personally, then it definitely will be an unpleasant expense (and in my case an expensive one) that others will incur when they encounter you.


So, here's to mankind and that we find it in ourselves to be honorable with ourselves so that that honor can carry over in our dealings with the rest of society.

Stay Blessed! Stay Encouraged!! Stay Honorable!!!

Unique Vizunz

Monday, June 1, 2015

Jacob's Story: What I Learned from a Transgender Child

As I sat down to watch the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt one evening, there was a segment about a young child, no more than five years old at the time of the interview, but since the age of two, this young girl named Mia knew she wanted to be identified as a boy and not as a girl.  Now, I'm sure many people would say that at two years old a child is very impressionable and can't possibly know that she or he wants to be identified as the opposite sex.  Mia's parents perhaps thought this was the case but finally began honoring their daughter's request and started identifying Mia as Jacob after speaking with professionals about Jacob's demands.  During the interview, Jacob's mom stated that he was always Persistent, Consistent and Insistent about being identified as a boy.

Jacob knew deep down what he wanted to be and whom he wanted to be identified as.  Jacob's determination, his actions, his passion and his beliefs got him where he wanted to be and whom he wanted to be early on in life.  Did Jacob meet resistance? Sure he did, but that didn't stop him!  You see, Jacob was and is confident in his abilities as a boy and I presume will be as a man.  How many of us can say that we have the determination, take the actions, have the passion and belief in ourselves and our abilities to achieve something the way that Jacob did?  We need to follow Jacob's lead when it comes to Persistence, Consistence and Insistence.  No matter how difficult a task is or who opposes it, be Persistent about getting the task done.  Don't give up!  Develop the patterns that will get you to the next level. Stay focused and stay Consistent with those actions!  Demand that you be heard and seen.  People will soon appreciate and understand your Insistence.  They will know that your passion, your beliefs and your actions hold true to your heart!

So In conclusion, Jacob's story and his qualities inspired me to write this, but most importantly his story made me realize that being Persistent, Consistent and Insistent are arguably the three main keys to success in one's life and that success is determined by whatever you deem important for your life.


Check out Jacob's story:  

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/transgender-kids/jacobs-journey-life-transgender-5-year-old-n345131

In case you need to know the meaning of Persistent, Consistent and Insistent I've provided the definitions below.

Persistent:  Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Consistent:  Always action or behaving in the same way.

Insistent:  The act of demanding something or saying something in a way that does not allow disagreement.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

THE IRONY!


How ironic, the Rochester, NY 911 Deputy Director Stephen Cusenz was suspended for five days for racially insensitive comments on a FB posts of an Irondequoit (a town of Rochester) Police Officer whom's post was inappropriate, insulting and racist to, Mexicans, African Americans and the African Americans people like him LOVE to HATE the most, POTUS and the First Lady. This is so ironic, but no surprise what so ever to me that Rochester's 911 Deputy Director Stephen Cusenz chimed in with his racial comments. Stephen is an alum of Leadership Rochester (lol-Leader) class of 2012, the same time I participated in the program. I remember so specifically the day we came back from Get Grounded Day, exploring different areas of the city of Rochester. During Mr. Cusenz debriefing of his exploration, which was the inner city, he described what he saw as the GHETTO. Now, I know what most people's images, thoughts and expectations of the GHETTO are, but I took this personal. I took it personal because there I was, sitting right there, in the same Leadership class that he was a part of, coming from the same area he had just explored doing exactly what he was doing except I wasn't criticizing the area I explored in a negative way. I discovered his racism back then (I think I'm a pretty good judge of character-doesn't look like I was wrong either) and now everyone else is seeing it. I was so mad but yet inspired by his depiction of what I've know as home, that I decided to make an acronym out of the word G.H.E.T.T.O. (Great  History Emerges Through Though Oppression) and make t-shirts. If you don't believe me check out this link from a year ago.. http://blogvizunz.blogspot.com/2014/02/ghetto.html

 
You see, racism rears its head even when people may not think they are being racist. Those intimate thoughts come to ahead and eventually bursts like a pimple. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion and First Amendment Right to free speech, but when we have so called Leaders leading in the city to protect and serve us, whom are racist, the rest of us are screwed. Who do we have to look forward to for help? Why would they want to help us when deep down they don't give a rats @&& what happens to us. Being the 911 Deputy Director is a rather important position. When calls come in to the center what is Mr. Cusenz really instructing his staff to do when the calls come in from the GHETTO?

 What makes matters even worse, I've contacted Leadership Rochester twice about my name not being listed under the alumni section, but guess who is listed, Stephen Cusenz the wonderful racist leader he is (shrugs shoulders-now my name may never be updated, lol).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Year Ago Today: Remembering Jeff Newland


A year ago today(10/23/13), I was at work and things were going as normal as planned.   At 10:52 AM, I received a text message from my brother, stating to “call me ASAP!!!!.”  Although I never like to see those type of messages, I didn’t think anything was wrong as I knew my brother would have called me if it was an emergency.  As the text read, I immediately picked up the phone and gave him a call.  Nothing could prepare me for what my brother was telling me on the other end of the phone.  He said that he received a Facebook message from one of his friends asking him to give him a call. My brother stated he wasn’t going to call his friend because he was in the midst of getting things in order before leaving for his trip to Charlotte, NC, but my brother said something said to call his friend.  Once he called his friend, my brother also wasn’t prepared to hear what he was about to hear.  His friend told him that Jeff Newland, a mentor to many, my brother and myself included, and a community leader, was found DEAD! Once my brother relayed the same information to me, I was stunned! How could this be possible?! Not Jeff!!

Just the night before, I was getting ready for bed, and I literally said, "I need to send Jeff an email for the Best II Things class this week to confirm that I would be in attendance," tomorrow never came for that. Instead, tomorrow struck me with the sudden news of his death. A death that in my eyes was unwarranted as he was murdered. Any death of a friend or loved one from a sickness is very hard and difficult to deal with but easier to come to terms with, but a death by murder especially of someone that was well respected and honored others before himself is unfathomable.

I met Jeff years before Best II Things.  I was looking to volunteer my time and thought Big Brothers Big Sisters would be the place to do so.  I was interviewed by Jeff in his office at Big Brothers Big Sisters.  I can still see him sitting in the mahogany office chair, smiling and talking about the vision that he saw Big Brothers and Big Sisters (BBBS) going in in the future. Volunteering never panned out for me with BBBS and thus my quick encounter with Jeff was over, or at least I thought it was.

Some years later, my brother held a networking event and somehow he became familiar with Jeff and invited him to the networking event.  When I got to the networking event, I saw Jeff in the corner, networking and having a beer.  He was just so friendly and down to earth probably just the opposite of what one would think of for someone of his stature.  We started talking and I reminded him that I interviewed with him a few years prior at BBBS, that jogged his memory and he talked about the great time he had there and his new commitment with Rochester Mentors and how he and my brother met through an event in which the organization was looking to gather mentors in which my brother attended.

My brother and Jeff remained in contact with each other and in 2013 Jeff invited him to a networking event to which my brother asked me to attend with him.  Low and behold, Jeff and I would cross paths yet again.  As always, Jeff was warm and welcoming. He was in the midst of establishing Best II Things through monthly networking events held at the Pillars.  The networking events were always friendly, warming, welcoming, and just that, networking.  Somehow, Jeff had a knack of bringing the right people together for a greater cause.  The purpose of the Best II Things were to get people to recognize their potential in a setting amongst other individuals that would help bring out the best in them by helping each other think differently and answer questions about themselves in the most honest of ways.

For me, Jeff was the ultimate supporter!  He believed in your dreams more than you believed in them! His care was genuine. It showed in his interactions with you. He never once doubted your abilities, he always found a way to uplift your spirits! He gave me an opportunity to have the floor at his networking event one evening. In that setting, I expressed to him how much I appreciated him and how much I had gained from us crossing paths yet again. I was so glad that I had the opportunity to let him know how I felt about him, not knowing that it would be one of the last few times I would see his gleaming smile.  The last time I saw Jeff was of course at one of the monthly networking events. I remember I wasn't feeling quite confident that day and I expressed this to him.  And in Jeff fashion, he found the way to encourage me.

Unfortunately, Jeff was taken away from us for some unknown reason.  A reason that yet remains a mystery to us all.  The person that I knew wasn't worthy of this. Jeff was one of those people that you may only meet once in this lifetime. Selfless, sincere, caring, down to earth, uplifting, honorable, genuine, smart, great listener, great communicator, supportive, wise, and so many more great adjectives to describe him (insert yours here)!  I can't think of a reason someone would want him dead. What I do know is that whomever it was took someone away from us all that served a great purpose on this earth. And even though someone took him away from us he continues to serve a greater purpose in his untimely death. That purpose is for us to live at our Best however we may see fit. I'm sure I speak for many that had the pleasure of knowing Jeff when I say he forever lives on through us in our endeavors and life journey. He smiles down on us when he sees us pursuing what we love.  Thanks Jeff for your unwavering support and belief in our dreams! Your legacy will not be in vain. May your spirit forever live through us! Rest Peacefully my friend, rest peacefully!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Violence: From Ferguson to Rochester

I have been reluctant to talk about the recent violent activities that have been happening around the country in the urban neighborhoods, in #Ferguson, MO and in my hometown of #Rochester, NY.  I guess I’ve been reluctant to speak because of the numbness that continued violence brings.  However, I feel the need to address my thoughts and concerns over the latest and continued violence that has plagued our communities, our families, our minds, our hearts, our television and social media outlets over the past several weeks.

#Ferguson:   I’ll start off by speaking about Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.  It saddens me that our black men are being executed by Law Enforcement and so called wannabe Law Enforcement, i.e., George Zimmerman, without a care in the world for them as a human being.  I use the term ours because we all are Americans and most importantly we are all GOD’s children whether you like it or not.  All black men are just as equal as the next man and deserve the same respect and honor.  Law Enforcement is suppose to “Protect and Serve” not Seek and Eliminate.  Such Officers that have a disregard for life are criminals disguised as Officers and don’t deserve to hold such positions.  There is something terribly wrong with such actions and anyone that can’t see this, regardless of your race, has real deep-rooted hatred for mankind. Michael Brown left behind his beloved family, friends and his future.

#Rochester:  Rochester, NY my hometown sees its fair share of violence.  Two years ago, I lost my cousin, Lawrence Richardson to said violence.  Unfortunately, the violence continues and not just civilians shooting civilians.  On Wednesday, September 3, 2014 Officer Daryl Pierson of the Rochester Police Department was shot by a suspect(whom is an actual criminal) during a pursuit to apprehend the suspect. Unfortunately, Officer Pierson succumbed to the injury that he sustained that night.  Just like the shooting of Michael Brown, the shooting of Officer Pierson troubles me as well.  Again, our brother was shot and killed by a criminal while doing his job. There is no reason for such violence against an Officer.  Our community, just like all communities need Police Officers in order to truly “Protect and Serve,” just as Officer Pierson was doing that night for the city of Rochester.  So often Police Officers are labeled as bad, untrustworthy, corrupt and hated by the community because they don’t do their job.  But what happens when an Officer is in fact doing their job and gets gunned down by a criminal?  How does the community feel then?  Just like anyone else that is a victim to violence, Officer Pierson leaves behind family and friends.  He left to cherish his memory two very young children, a 4 year old that he took to school that very same day for the first day of school and a three 3 month old daughter, his wife, along with other family and friends, and probably most importantly his children’s future.  
           
            My final thoughts conclude on the basis of life.  I’d like to believe that we all were placed on this earth to make the world a better place, not to take the life of another human being.  Regardless of if it’s a Police Officer shooting and killing an unarmed man or a suspect shooting and killing a Police Officer, they both are evil acts.  Some will say that the two incidents can’t be compared and I agree to a certain extent.  However, I feel they both are the same because two lives were lost. I’ve seen comments on social media sites regarding both of these matters in which people suggest that Michael Brown was a criminal and displayed criminal actions by stealing prior to his death to now cops know how we the people feel when they shoot and kill someone.  I disagree with both of these points of view because someone lost their life and their family lost a loved one.  People with these feelings clearly don’t have any regard for the life of another individual because if they did, such thoughts wouldn’t even come across their minds.  Life is love and love is living and in order to truly live we must love one another.  In order to love one another we must TRULY BELIEVE IN GOD because when you TRULY BELIEVE IN GOD, there is no place for hatred. 
            I conclude with a prayer to not only these two families but to all families that have lost loved ones as a result of violence.  Father God, bless the families that have suffered the lost of their loved ones at the hands of another. You have given us Free Will but that Free Will has caused so many to use it to harm others.  Let your Will replace those that use their freedom to impose harm to others.  May we find it in our hearts to forgive, to bridge the gap between races and authority so that we can live peacefully amongst each other.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.