Aug 31, 2010

Not in My Town! Yes, Black Deb- Your Town.

If there is one thing my friends know about me it's that I LOVE my hometown. Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Home of MTSU, the TSSAA state basketball tournaments, and of course my very large family. When people ask where I'm from I never say outside of Nashville. I say Murfreesboro or as the people here in Illinois like to call it- "the place where we stop on our way to Florida." Growing up in Murfreesboro was fun, easy, carefree, and a place that I always thought I'd like to raise my children. After leaving the Boro I realized how lucky and sheltered I'd been. I've lived in Illinois and Connecticut and when people there make assumptions about Tennessee and ask if I ever experienced racism or intolerance I always say- not to my face. Murfreesboro wasn't like that. My mom was in the first class to integrate Central High School. As a matter of fact I didn't know all black high schools still existed in the United States until I met people from Memphis in college. I grew up naive and protected from hate. So imagine my shock at seeing my hometown on the national news - for hate crimes committed at the construction sight of an Islamic mosque. The construction vehicles used to break ground for the mosque were vandalized and one was set afire early Saturday morning. For the fourth time in as many years my hometown had been on the national news.
  • Adam "Pacman" Jones was arrested outside of Sweetwater Saloon in Murfreesboro and charged with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct in 2006. (My ESPN friends had a field day with this one).
  • The Good Friday tornado of 2009. Seeing the devastation moved me to tears.
  • The severe flooding this past spring. Again crying ensued. 
  • And now the vandalism and protests against the building of the mosque. 
YIKES! The last one hit home. I was eating lunch at work on Monday when I heard the name Mufreesboro come from the television in the break room. I looked around filled with guilt as most people in the room knew where I was from. CNN's Rick Sanchez began re-telling the story and there was nothing I could say to defend what happened. Then Sanchez began an interview with the chairman of the mosque planning committee, Essam Fathy. Wait I thought...I know him. Sure he's got more gray hair than he had when I first met him but I'd know that kind face anywhere. See I met Essam Fathy when I was four years old. He's the father of one of my oldest friends,  Bassma. Bassma and I were buddies from the word GO. Her family also lived next door to my aunt so it seemed as though we were family for a time. I never thought of the Fathy's as different and when I realized we weren't of the same religion I didn't know that  mattered to other people. I never thought everyone had to be black, Baptist, and upper middle class like me. So who cares right? As a child I was only allowed to spend the night at two of my friend's homes-Bassma's and Shelby's. The first two friends I ever made. Two friends that I still keep in touch with. Bassma comes from an Egyptian family of the Islamic faith, while Shelby's family is southern, Christian, and white. Why did my parents only allow me to stay with them? Because they knew and cared for their parents. My mom went to school with Shelby's parents and knew I'd be safe. She also knew nothing bad would happen to me with the Fathy's. After seeing and reading the stories of the vandalism at the mosque site I longed for the Murfreesboro I grew up in. Not the one on CNN and in USA Today for religious and /or racial intolerance. 

In an overly Christian state and town I know that there are people offering help and support to our Islamic neighbors. If they follow Christ then they know this is not the way to "stand up for their beliefs". I also know the perpetrators of this crime are a small group and do not represent my entire town, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt every time I hear it on the news. 

Aug 21, 2010

Celebrating in Style!

Hey everyone. Just wanted to thank you for reading and following. I decided to take my birthday month off and relax. Plus with work picking up I just haven't had the time, but I will be back September 1st. I LOVE this time of year. My birthday, family reunion, and the return of football always make August a fun and busy time. Hope everyone is doing well! Have a GREAT (rest of) August.

You can follow me on Twitter and I also write for as the AFC South Chick.

Love y'all,
Black Deb

Aug 11, 2010

Thank God I'm Over My Age: A Birthday Post

So here it is. My 31st Birthday and guess what? I'm HAPPY about it. I've struggled with my age for a few years since I thought I would be all picket fenced up by now. But for the first time in my life there is no "plan" I have to stick to and it feels GREAT. The other day I saw a book that women writers wrote to their younger selves and I felt I should do the same. So looking back here's what I'd say to 21 year old Anetra:

  • You and God are going to wrestle. I'm talking a Jacob like struggle. But you'll be closer than ever. 
  • You don't know this now but your mom and her family are more proud of you than you can imagine. 
  • Stop planning and start living cause your life will look nothing like what you think it should and you'll like it.
  • Spend more time asking your grandmother about your family history before she has her stroke in 2006.
  • Everyone didn't grow up as sheltered as you. BE grateful. 
  • You're not going to meet men that you really like until you're 30. So chill out.
  • You will meet people that show you just how blessed you really are. 
  • None of your friends and family look down on you about law school- they think it's so cool that you work for ESPN. 
  • Stop saying you're fat because in 10 years you'll wish you were this size.
  • You and your best friends that you met in college will STILL be best friends in 10 years. 
  • One of those best friends will have twins and show you that you aren't cut out for two at a time.
  • You can survive living far away from your mom.
  • You will live in Connecticut and it will change your life.
  • You'll work at ESPN.
  • Your closest friends at ESPN will be Deltas who love your AKA-ish ways.
  • Perfection is boring- stop trying to be perfect. 
  • People actually think you're quite pretty. 

and last but not least.... SAVE YOUR MONEY!

I thank God for another year. I thank Him for what HE has taught me through the years. My birthday week has always been one of celebration for my mom and I. She also gives the BEST gifts. Can't wait to see how she tops my Bermuda trip from last year. :-)

Aug 1, 2010

Use Your Struggle to Fuel Your Passion

For the past few weeks the same theme has been coming up around me. Use your struggle. Be a light. God might put you through something to help others. This theme has come up  so many times in the past month that it finally dawned on me. Hey Anetra- God's talking to you.

Many times over my life I've asked why I had to go through something or why did this have to happen to me. For every time I've asked God that question I've met someone that has gone through something similar and I was able to offer them some advice or at least an empathetic ear. One of the lingering questions that I STILL have for God is why did I ever go to law school. Why did He allow me to get accepted? For those that don't know I went to law school. I hated it and my grades weren't all that great either. I was unfocused, unmotivated, uneverything about law school. I left after a year and a half. As a Leo woman my life was SUPPOSED to go by the script that I wrote. But of course as we know the saying goes- "Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans." I'm sure God chuckled away as I TOLD Him ***yes told*** I wanted to be a lawyer by 21, married by 23, kids by 27. All in that order thanks! Ask me which one of those happened. Yep you guessed it - not a single one of them. What God did do however was send me on a path that I would have NEVER dreamed for myself yet it works wonderfully.

After coming home from law school -I had NO plan. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. I had no clue what I was supposed to do with my life- I had wanted to be a lawyer since I was 10 years old so now what? (If you want to hear how I went from law school to ESPN check out my first blog post "It's Yours...Just Wait"

God lead me to my career passion for television by taking away what I thought I wanted. He also has allowed me to use my early career troubles to mentor young girls and women on unorthodox career paths. Just last night I talked to several young girls at my third job about taking different paths to achieve their goals and honestly I think I got more out of it than they did. It was so exciting hearing a young woman with cancer, who loves helping kids who suffer from the same disease. Another girl ,who is adopted, that has the personality to reach so many adopted children and another, who has such a calming persona that any PR firm would be lucky to have her. I found out about 7 years ago that I loved mentoring teenage and young adult women. They are the group of people outside of my own age group that I seem to relate to the most. I am still very close to some of the girls I mentored back when they were just high school kids and am very proud to say that one graduated from Xavier University this past May. My teenage years weren't the worst of times but I know what girls go through especially dealing with body image- you try being the only black cheerleader and wondering why your pleated skirt doesn't lay flat in the back. I also know the pressures of doing drugs, cheating on tests, not having a date or having a date that you don't like for prom. I used all my past experiences to reach them in some way.  

Instead of wondering why God put you through something see if there is someone with a similar situation that needs your shoulder, your ear, or your hand for help. Plus it takes your mind off your own troubles. GO MENTOR SOMEONE!!!!!

PS- Guess what I got when I followed God's plan instead of my own: My pride and joy- Emmy Lou!!!!!!