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Smoking Mad…By My Neighbor’s Incessant Smoking

Disclaimer – My apologies at the outset for the passion and length of this post, as many within my faithful blog audience are aware I’m an educator and a writer, so it’s admittedly difficult to limit my thoughts (especially on a subject so close to home)…anyway, here goes –

Background/Introduction: I am a middle-aged Black woman (and native Detroiter), who has never, and doesn’t plan to ever, smoke. As such, I should not suffer the current level of injury, insult and harm I am experiencing DAILY at the hands of my neighbors who incessantly smoke marijuana all day/every day. Within the past several years, I have been blessed to morph from being a lifelong educator/school administrator to a small business owner. This is relevant because I now live and work from home 24-7. This is sadly both a blessing and a curse, because my life has now been reduced to a state of inescapable exposure to second-hand marijuana use from both sides, but one neighbor in particular, with their smoking resulting in my: daily headaches, mood swings, burning eyes/throat and countless sleepless nights.

Needless to say I am livid, am seriously considering moving and have essentially lost my quality of life as a Detroit resident. Although I have consulted my family at length on this issue, they have advised me not to engage in an all-out war with my seemingly “addicted neighbor(s)” for fear of the possible negative consequences. However, in the vein of my own right to a therapeutic release and perhaps as a last-ditch effort for support – I have drafted a letter I would ideally like to share with my elder White, male neighbor (on one side), and young Black couple neighbors (on the other side) whose daily indulgences have literally rendered me a victim in my home, with no discernible form of recourse.

Dear Neighbor,

As marijuana use becomes increasingly normalized, it’s important for people to exercise common decency and etiquette when indulging, if even for prescribed medicinal purposes. I am truly suffering and feel compelled to communicate the degree to which my optimal health and quality of life have been deleteriously affected by your constant (morning, afternoon and evening) marijuana smoking habits.

Of course, we have been neighbors in good standing for years . . . our daily greetings, exchange of pleasantries and your warmth and positive spirit towards my daughter and I even prompted me to invite you (and your mate), to her high school Open House. We could not have been more thrilled than when you joined us on the Riverfront, for our formal celebration and gifted her with a card, cash and your well-wishes as she headed off to college! Our history, in my opinion, has always been one of equal admiration and that of extended family, or at the very least community camaraderie. This positive history however, does not make this hard truth any easier to deliver, as I fear it stands to potentially threaten our ability to continue to co-exist harmoniously in such an affable manner. I pray that this is not the case, and that we are able to devise of a feasible schedule (?), by which you duly exercise your daily indulgences and I make it a priority to be outside of the comforts of my own home. But honestly, something has got to give!

In my frustration with enduring excessive headaches and existing in a smoke-filled haze within the past several weeks that I have worked arduously on a pending client contract, I sought out several peer-reviewed and published studies to support (or refute) my contention that my health was being negatively impacted. What I discovered may surprise you. Studies indicate that exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke can have health and safety risks for the general public, especially due to its similar composition to secondhand tobacco smoke. They cite, among other things that “Regardless of the debate of possible benefits of marijuana products, there is simply no need to use them inside shared air spaces (such as workplaces, public places, and multi-unit housing) where others are then subject to the hazardous secondhand smoke or secondhand aerosol from electronic smoking devices. Just like traditional cigarettes, marijuana should be used in ways that don’t impact the health of others”. This finding is pivotal given that our neighborhood is replete with multi-unit housing complexes.

It is an inarguable fact that “Nobody should have to breathe secondhand marijuana smoke at work or where they live, learn, shop, or play. Smoke is smoke and marijuana smoke is a form of indoor air pollution. Therefore, it is important to strengthen all smokefree laws – both existing and new – to include marijuana in the definitions of smoking and vaping”.

In case, you might be inclined to seek remedies outside of merely ceasing and desisting with the current behavior of incessant smoking (for the sake of others), it is also important to consider that ventilation is NOT a feasible remedy. Because these same studies advise that “As has been proven time and time again, ventilation does not eliminate all the poisonous toxins and chemical components of secondhand smoke. The science is clear. Ventilation systems or air cleaning technologies may reduce odor, but they do not address the serious health risks caused by secondhand smoke exposure”. Ultimately, there is clear evidence that your incessant marijuana smoking habits, are inextricably tied to the quality of the very air that I and my family breathe…this is problematic and unacceptable, especially considering that your smoking begins as early as 7:00 am EVERYDAY and continues throughout the day with a documented cessation at or around midnight.

Research shows that “negative health impacts, especially to the cardiovascular system, occur quickly even at extremely low levels of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke. The only way to eliminate the health hazards of secondhand smoke is by having a 100% smoke-free environment”. As local community residents, we are blessed to live in such close proximity to large, open air spaces/parks – that I beg of you to engage in your indulgences off-site as a considerate means to avoid compromising the health of your neighbors (and other loved ones).

As a longtime city resident and neighbor, I am entitled to and faithfully intend to exercise my right to enjoy a 100% smoke-free home environment. I welcome your immediate support, thoughtful recommendations and potential solutions to that end.


Your disgusted and second-hand smoke repelled neighbor


Protecting Nonsmokers from Secondhand Marijuana Smoke – American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2019, from

Ortega-Welch, M. (2018, March 19). Are There Risks From Secondhand Marijuana Smoke? Early Science Says Yes [Video blog post]. Retrieved from

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If I Could Dream Me A World…

Ego Trippin’ II (Too)…

Lovingly Inspired by Nikki Giovanni’s “I dream me a world” & “Ego Tripping”


If I could start over again, I would dream me a world of pleasures simple and love sublime –


With the Atlantic Ocean as my Jacuzzi and sacred steam bath; instead of the burial ground of so many of my ancestors who perished in the Maafa

My backyard would be the Garden of Eden

And of the fruit of these trees, you could taste eternal life…

No doubt, preferable to the “strange fruit” which perpetually rots the roots and negates the perennial beauty of Southern trees



The Step Pyramid would have been Jendayi’s playscape, and the entire world her oyster

And with the stars as her swing set,

The crescent moon as her slide,

And the Great Sphinx her regal, majestic jungle gym –

Her Shining, African Genius and

Her Love of Science and

Her own special brand of Black Girl Magic could really rule the world

Instead of fighting back against the limited possibilities of being born a Black Woman in Amerikkka:

Whereby her inheritance is my own, and that of my Mother before me…

Righteous. Revolutionary. Struggle.



If I could start over again and dream me a world of pleasures simple and love sublime –

The power of our very thoughts could determine reality

And Religion would be replaced with Spirituality,

And Preachers with Prophets

And schools with Real Education like…


A ‘Divinity school’ which teaches only one lesson:


That God dwells within and that ALL we need to know

We already know (and really did know, even before Kindergarten).


And to trust wholly in our Divine Oneness with God, and to know that

…truly all these things shall be added unto you



If I could start over again, I would dream me a world

of pleasures simple and love sublime… YEAH

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Black Panther Legacy is Not For Sale

IMG_4652The Revolution will not be televised. The powerful words of Gil Scott-Heron are not just slogan worthy, but they personified Black Consciousness. In 2018, they still represent a timely reminder and warning that as a people We. Are. Not. For. Safe.

My best friend throughout my beloved HBCU days is the son of one of the revered, founding members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and in sacred tribute to his regal, ancestral inheritance – an entire culture must not be guilty of the callous disregard of media pimping our liberation struggle.

I am a daughter of the 70’s and reap the benefits of the quintessential, generational gift of being born #Woke. My own parents boasted of fond memories of grassroots BPP activism and all my Mama’s and Baba’s bemoaned the systemic, government infiltration driven, and Cointelpro designed demise of this most righteous and empowered Revolutionary Movement.

I too, revel in the beauty of our Blackness celebrated in film and masterfully filtered through our own unique lens. But I shudder to think that a Marvel fantasy could supplant the proud history of an entire Black Power Movement worthy of its own patented mark on history. So, as you purchase advance tickets, carefully plan your wardrobe (wear your garb to the premiere), and otherwise anticipate the momentous Black Panther film…also read, research and #EducateToLiberate.

The Revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised…the Revolution will be live.


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The Failure Of The Women’s March

I am no stranger to activism, protest and marching as the featured photos of my daughter, sister and I marching down Woodward Ave. in Detroit’s “Walk to Freedom” March in June, 2013 will attest.  This march was memorable because of the coveted opportunity to march arm-in-arm with Civil Rights legend C.T. Vivian and though my Mother, prominent activist and then-Detroit City Council elected Honorable Jo Ann Watson is not pictured, she helped the NAACP and UAW to organize this commemorative march and ensured the inclusivity of its purposeful agenda.  Yet admittedly, my presence, voice, agenda and that of countless of my sisters, mothers and daughters are significantly absent from the Women’s March on Washington.

In a nutshell, the agenda and demographics of the #WomensMarch2018 reflects the same electoral base of voters who overwhelmingly elected Donald Trump – White women.  Therein lies the inexcusable and essential failure of this exclusionary movement.  While the Women’s March on Washington courageously advocates on behalf of:  women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, environmental justice, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights – an outspoken commitment to issues at the heart of activism for Black people and Black women, in particular – are woefully absent.  I suppose this makes sense, since this was never our initiative to begin with…

During it’s November 2017 inception, this march was borne of the passionate plea of one woman, Theresa Shook, to do something to express her outrage at Trump having been elected.  “I didn’t have a plan or a thought about what would happen,” Shook told Reuters, “I just kept saying, I think we should march.”  As a result one year ago, nearly 500,000 women descended on Washington, D.C. and others organized in cities worldwide to “build bridges not walls.”  Except Black women were noticeably absent of this catchy, anti-Trump slogan and the subsequent movement to follow.  OUR issues:  the elimination of institutionalized racism, mass incarceration, widespread police brutality, classist/racist fueled mis-education, ever-increasing violence against Black women and men, in particular, and most importantly dismantling of the historic, systemic oppression of Black people continues to be an after-thought in this and so many popular, national movements (#MeToo and #TimesUp included).

In acknowledgement of the enormous void of empowered and diverse representation, there was a genuine attempt to appoint Blacks to key positions, most notably respected activist Tamika Mallory joined the organizing arm of the Women’s March early on and has lent credibility to the effort.  In addition, countless Black celebrities brought notoriety to the valiant efforts and enthusiastically endorse and participate in the LA march, thus offering the aesthetic veneer of diversity and inclusivity.  However, token representation does not elicit authentic inclusivity and with organizing partners such as historically racist Planned Parenthood, and messages/ images appealing to the White, feminist agenda this march (though well-intentioned), will always reflect the priorities of the original trio of White, women organizers.  Thus, the timely agenda and widespread endorsement/support of Black women will continually be absent.

This year’s march aimed at increasing voter registration and electing more women progressives to office is admirable and ensures a #Win for the Democratic party which largely benefits from this myopic, establishment-approved agenda.  For the vast majority of grassroots activists on behalf of justice and equality – the struggle continues.  For Black women the harsh truth is that White supremacy-based movements, feminism, patriarchy, external agendas, the status quo and the Democratic party have overwhelmingly failed us.  Our agenda is only advanced when we author, orchestrate, organize, center and fully execute our own movements in concert with our own very urgent, meaningful and unique agenda, as a people.

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MLK Day – When We Fight, We Win

images-17If each of us knew the ‘real cost’ of the federal observance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. holiday – perhaps we would collectively embrace the spirit of service and activism that justice truly requires.

MLK Day is significant not only for the larger-than-life martyr and Nobel Peace Prize winning freedom fighter we collectively salute and honor – but this hard-fought, annual third Monday of January observance is emblematic of a tradition of a struggle that proves that despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, righteous battles for freedom, justice and equality must always be fought and will ultimately win.

The timely request to honor Dr. King’s life came in 1968, just four days after Dr. King’s tragic assassination.  Still the MLK Day legislation, which was the brainchild of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and exhaustively introduced by former Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), was not formally signed into law until 1986.  Even after the long-awaited and successful passage of the federal holiday, many southern states still refused to acknowledge and/or celebrate the national holiday until the year 2000 when all 50 states finally consented to lawfully observing MLK Day in unison.

Clearly, the history of struggle to even actualize a meaningful day of service in honor of a Civil Rights legend offers many teachable moments.  Namely, that even racist US President’s are bound to subscribe to the will of the people, when forced.  Notoriously racist President Reagan reluctantly signed the MLK Day bill into law, because the external pressure to do so overpowered his personal ideology and politics.  Frederick Douglass wisely prophesied that “power concedes nothing without a demand”.  Likewise, change is often reflective of years of unrelenting persistence and selfless struggle to support a valiant cause – against all odds.

Thus, the lesson compatible with the MLK Day observance is to always maintain the spirit of service, activism and the internal fortitude to struggle against racism…because when we fight, we win.