My Unlikely Decade of Transitions: Prosecutor – Writer – Activist – Beyond?

Greetings Fam,

Wow, today is the end of an era.

For me, the last ten years have been a period of major growth. In the last decade:

I met and married my soulmate…

The Cowboy & I at the 2017 Indianapolis 500

I found my voice, stride, confidence and purpose. It took a few setbacks and closed doors to realize what direction I should go; but all of the disappointments came together to lead me to this place.

Speaking on South African television in 2019 on gender based violence

I became President of the National Black Prosecutors Association which exposed me to real criminal justice reform work – from sitting in the houses in our community to sitting in the (Obama) White House. I saw the injustices that got perpetuated not necessarily from ill intent, but from not knowing any better (myself included).

I made the big leap of leaving a comfortable sixteen year position as a prosecutor to becoming Deputy Director of the ACLU of Florida. My viewpoints on life were vastly broadened — from learning about the struggles of the transgender community to deepening my work on criminal justice reform and its intersection with voting rights.

I traveled to the Motherland. This year I had life changing trip to South Africa, where I walked in the path of the late great freedom fighter/leader Nelson Mandela. During that time, not only did I see the roots of what would become an international resistance movement, I was able to advocate for the safety of women on an international scale.

South Africa 2019

I survived heartbreak and heartache of losing my mom; but also learned to jealously guard my mental health.  Life will throw things at you that you believe you can never overcome. There will be days you can’t get out of bed. But day by day, step by step, it gets better. Be patient, and seek help from a professional if you need it.

Losing her also taught me to be fearless. Life is short; “sit and wait your turn” means you may never get a shot. Seize the day, make your own path and opportunity. Because you may look up and realize that you have less time than you planned on, and what then? Sit in regret? Nope, not me!

My mother and I at on my wedding day in 2012. RIP Mama P.

As we begin the dawn of a new decade, let’s take one final trip down memory lane on the Resident Legal Diva.  It’s been such a blessing to be able to write, and share my thoughts with a wider audience. I admit I did not post as much as in previous years — lots going on — but thank you for the love that was received for my writing this year!! Here’s what you read the most from me:

5. Legal Divas of Color: Jewel Lafontant – Mankarious

Every Black History Month, I feature female trailblazers of color in the field of law upon whose example I built upon.  Jewel Lafontant – Mankarious made history as a trailblazer in the field of prosecution.

4. “You’re So Articulate” Is Not A Compliment to a Woman of Color

This is a piece that continues to resonate with so many professionals of color. It started with an argument on Twitter (yes, this is definitely something to be left in the last decade) where a fellow attorney tried to explain to me that I should not be offended. At the end of the day, folks need to accept the following: if someone tells you xyz is offensive, don’t double down and keep doing it.  Just..stop.

3. Jay Z Was Right: We Need to Gentrify Our Hood

Jay Z received backlash over a few things in 2019; this one I don’t believe was justified at all.  As we look at economic equality and gentrification, people of color are always on the receiving end of the push out, and never on the benefits.  When gentrification arrives, it’s people of color who have to move further away from their jobs or conveniences we take for granted. Companies expand into newly gentrified neighborhoods, but it does not provide the jobs and economic advancement for the people who originally lived there.  So now what? More incentives should be provided so that people do not have to leave their neighborhoods. And, as people of color get more means, we need to buy up the block so that no one else does. We have to empower our own neighborhoods — as well as protect our history.

2. Kim Foxx Was Not Wrong: The Lonely Road of a Prosecutor of Color

The Jussie Smollett case garnered a great deal of attention on the role of a prosecutor — and how discretion should be used.  I analyzed the case in the context of having done this work. Was everything handled perfectly? No, nothing ever is.  But the backlash was excessive, and rooted in racism.

And the #1 post on RLD for 2019 is:

Legal Divas of Color: Cheryl Mills!

Cheryl Mills is known for her defense of President Bill Clinton during his impeachment hearing. She is the first African American to address the United States Senate in her capacity as Associate Counsel for the President.

Clearly my readers love the posts on history, and I will endeavor to share more in the coming year!

More challenges lie ahead in the next few years, but I am excited to be able to continue serving the greater good and putting my criminal justice expertise to work.

Wishing you an amazing New Year and new decade. Thank you for reading, your comments and your support. May you find prosperity, happiness, and grow in your purpose!!

#TBT: Best of 2016

voting 2016

 

 

Hi RLD Family,

As we bring 2016 to a close, I wanted to share the stories on the blog that were the most popular this year. I’ve put the link to the post in the title, so go ahead and click to read it again…or for the first time if you missed it.

Let’s begin the countdown!

 

 

#5. Don’t Leave America, Fight For It!

This Presidential election definitely brought out some strong feelings — and the outcome came as a surprise to many. I shared my thoughts as to “where from here” and my resolve to fight for what is rightfully mine as an American. My forefathers planted trees on this land, and I intend to stay and enjoy the fruit of their labor.

 

#4. An Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly on Slavery

My response to the crazy and factually incorrect comments regarding slavery made by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly appeared in the Huffington Post. It remains the most commented on and liked piece that I have done so far.  We must be vigilant to make sure that those who wish to revise history, whitewashing it and trying to minimize the effect it had on this nation, are held to task.

 

#3. My Take on Police Shootings

This piece was published in the Huffington post as well. It was in response to some of the horrific shootings by police that we saw this year. Not every case merits an arrest;  if an officer can articulate legitimate reasons for being in fear, then the shooting is justified.  The focus must remain on deescalation tactics  to reduce the number of fatal shootings, and shining a light on those shootings that are not justified to ensure that everyone is equal under the law — facing consequences when the law is broken.

 

#2. #LoveWins: Interracial Relationship Realities

An innocent and sweet Old Navy ad featuring an interracial family drew the ire of Internet trolls. As a result of the racist backlash, many families started to post pictures showing what love is. I was no different;  not only did I post pictures of my husband and I, but I penned a piece to discuss some of the challenges that we face as a couple. At the end of the day, as long as you have a love and communication, you can overcome anything!

 

And the number one post of 2016 on the Resident Legal Diva is:

#1. Goodbye My Dear Friend…

This was one of the toughest pieces for me to write. Actually, writing it wasn’t that hard; reading and sharing it was the difficult part. My friend suddenly passed away earlier this year, and left a hole in my heart that can never be filled. This was a tough year for me with regards to friends and family transitioning to the next life. All we can do is cherish those we love while we have them, mourn those we have lost, and keep them alive in our hearts through our beautiful memories.

This year I also took a gander at vlogging! I did three videos — check out the links below.

 

So for 2017, what do you want to see on the blog? Do you want to see more articles? More Diva Talks videos? More Diva Reads where I discuss articles of interest that I have been reading?  I’d love to hear from you, sound off in the comments below.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and amazing New Year. I’ll see you on the flipside!

M.

 

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courtesy CreateHerStock

 

New Year, New Level: The Year of “Yes”

Happy New Year! So here we are in 2016, on the cusp of a brand new adventure. We have high hopes, resolutions, and plans that we hope will unfold.

But, we still have our fears.

What would happen if we stared fear in the face, and went for it (whatever it is)? One thing is for sure. If you don’t try, you are guaranteed that you will not move forward.

This interesting piece from theRoot.com talks about lessons learned from powerhouse writer Shonda Rhimes’ (of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder fame) new book. She challenges us to say “yes” for 1 year to everything that scares you.

I have to vouch for that tactic. There were many opportunities presented to me in 2015; as my husband can attest, some of these chances scared the beJesus out of me. But I said yes, and was so glad I did. From moderating a panel on wrongful convictions, giving a speech on C-Span introducing the US Attorney General, improving my snowboarding, to standing up for what I believe in during not so friendly situations — there were times I was literally shaking. But on the other side came triumph.

So join me in making this the year of yes….or yaaaaaasssssss (for when the inevitable amazing things occur)!

Take a read and share your thoughts!

Last month, power TV showrunner Shonda Rhimes released her first book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, in which she reveals how a stray observation said to her by her older sister during the Thanksgiving of 2013—“You never say yes to anything”—challenged her to say yes to everything that scared her for one life-changing year.

Read more here.

Turning the Page to 2014….

Happy-New-Year-2014-goofy

 

A new day is dawning.

2013 has been one heck of a ride.

In the year of Suit & Tie and Blurred Lines, twerking & selfies, major issues took center stage. To name a few:

  •  The Zimmerman trial and the continuing debate regarding Stand Your Ground laws;
  • Gun ownership  and the safety of our children due to highly publicized school shootings (resulting in some new legislation);
  • Stop & frisk in NY;
  • Facebook bullying and liability for the consequences;
  • Hacking vs. whistleblowing, with Snowden dealing a severe blow to President Obama’s administration and the way the NSA does business.

Looking at the cultural aspects of things, the death of Nelson Mandela ended an era, and created a vacuum in some ways.  Who will unite us in the same way? His funeral had a cross section of political and religious beliefs, all united in their grief of the loss of such a great man, an icon.

The untimely death of Paul Walker of Fast and Furious fame reminded us how short life is.  He was going to take time off after Fast & Furious 7 to spend time with his daughter.  This is a reminder…tomorrow is not promised, live TODAY.

For me professionally, it was a great year. Highlights from this year included my legal commentary regarding jury selection on the Rick Party afternoon drive show of Hot 105.1 during the George Zimmerman trial, the publication of my articles by a variety of online news outlets, including Essence.com, along with a great discussion on NPR about racial profiling while shopping.

On a personal level,  I lost 20lbs on Weight Watchers and enjoyed my second year of marriage to my soulmate.

But, most importantly, I started this blog.

I feel blessed and excited for what the new year will bring. Thank you to all who have supported, encouraged, proofread, and shared.

Next year?

I don’t do resolutions…they always seem to get broken.  I set INTENTIONS.

I intend to learn tennis, and to serve a wider community by providing quality opinions through writing and other media.

Wishing you and yours all the best for the New Year!

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