Life has a way of helping us keep things in perspective. If we aren’t cynical and listen to its lessons, hopefully we can learn and grow. For months, a high school friend was preparing for me to come back to St. Louis, not far from my hometown, for a book signing party.
You can imagine how excited I was when she told me the event would be held at one of city’s iconic locations: Sweetie Pie’s Upper Crust, the restaurant featured on the OWN reality show Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s. My marketing mind kicked into high gear with ideas to promote the event. The last thing I wanted was to arrive with lots of fanfare only to find three people in line!
I was happy and humbled when old friends from high school, new friends from social media, my entire immediate family including my nephews, nieces and cousins, people from my old neighborhood who know more about me than I care to think about, Tom Joyner Morning Show listeners and Sweetie Pie’s proprietor, the legendary Miss Robbie, showed up to support me.
The love I was shown was overwhelming – from people who I knew could have put that $20 to buy my book toward all kinds of other things – to my niece, a recent high school graduate, actually videotaping me signing her copy.
Coming back home can be daunting. I’ve heard stories of people who’ve achieved certain levels of success who are made to feel less than special when they return home to visit the people who “knew them when.”
I owe so much to the village that shaped and prepared me for adulthood and a career first as a teacher, then a morning radio personality on WGCI in Chicago, to the senior producer of the Tom Joyner Morning Show and now, as a best-selling author.
It had been many years since I’d been back in St. Louis and more specifically, the suburb of Rock Hill, Missouri. I took a quick tour through the old neighborhood to take photos of the park named for my dad, former mayor Kennard Whitfield, stopped at my favorite pizza joint and visited our old family house. It brought so many fond memories flooding back. Though everything was smaller than I remembered, the smiles and hugs were bigger than ever.
Now it feels surreal that while I was my getting hair and makeup done for the book signing and looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends, just a few miles away, a young man was gunned down by police.
His death sparked protests, rioting, looting and lots of unanswered questions about the fate of Black teenagers at the hands of law enforcement in this country.
Yep, things are in perspective now.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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