Labor Day Sale! “Really?”

One of my biggest fears about Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday was commercialism. Why celebrate the freeing of Texas slaves when you can get great discounts at Macy’s?

Federal holidays have become synonymous with sales.

Federal holidays are marketer’s show-boating just how good they are at enticing people to salivate about 60% off an item they didn’t want. The holiday’s meaning disappears the moment that bright red poster starts to scream “SALE!”

Take Labor Day for example.

Did you know that Labor Day was created because workers were treated like crap? From around 1882 through the Industrial Revolution, poor men, women, and children of ALL race where working 14-16 hours days, without breaks, water, and in some cases ventilation. So Labor Unions were formed to protect, fairly pay, and respect the American worker.

Needless to say, they met opposition. Big Business (think Amazon or Apple fulfillment centers) to law enforcement to the Federal Government wasn’t having it. And in some cases went as far as bombing coal miners to stop them from unionizing.

Don’t take my word for it.

Here is a resource to get your own revelation.

Labor Day is not about a sale.

It’s about American working-class people organizing to protect their dignity, health, and provide for their families. As Black women, we know how easy it is to be exploited because you have mouths to feed. Labor Unions were created to stand up for the exploited. But we never really talk about that while we are being seduced with great savings.

So I can not say “Happy Labor Day.” I know too much.

What I can say is this:
I witness and celebrate all the workers who go unsung because you don’t have a voice. I thank you for doing backbreaking work for my quality of life. I know you need that job. I know you are not compensated as you should be and I know it sucks.

I used to scrub floors and pick up the trash off the highway to get paid a few dollars an hour just to survive. I feel you.

I am not a union but I am a person who grew up dirt poor and knows the pain and the pride of grit. I thank you for loving your family so much that you would keep working in hazardous conditions for damn near pennies.
I admire you.
I look up to you.
I celebrate you.

Dr. Venus–a poor girl from the streets of Baltimore. #dontletthedrfoolya

Happy Father’s Day <3

Not all of us know, met or have a relationship with our biological father.

But I would dare to say that most of us have had some Black Man stand in the gap for us at some point in our lives, even if only for a season.

Happy Father’s Day to all the teachers, stepdads, foster fathers, play dads, brothers, cousins, friends, neighbors, best friends, pastors, and deacons who stood in the gap for those of us who didn’t know our fathers.

As for me, Happy Fathers Day, Uncle Jesse.

You have and continue to be the best father figure I could ever have.

Happy Father’s Day!!

Decoration Day = Memorial Day

Did you know, it was Black People that started the Memorial Day holiday?

Let me explain.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance.
But check out what is documented some three years earlier.

David Blight, a Historian, discovered that on May 1, 1865, freed slaves, with the help of White missionaries, would place flowers on the graves of Civil War soldiers & called it “Decoration Day.”

“Decoration Day” became Memorial Day.

In my imagining, I see those freed slaves laying those flowers on the graves of Black soldiers as a thank you for their freedom in 1865.

Today is the day we honor the brave men & women – especially the unsung Black soldiers who fought in EVERY war our nation has been a part of — who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Nearly 40,000 Black Soldiers died fighting for freedom in the Civil War.

I have served my country in the United States Coast Guard Reserve. I give humble thanks to all of the Black Soldiers who died so I could join the military as a way out of poverty.

America is imperfect and unfinished.

As a Black Woman American, I am proud of our Black Soldiers that never seem to get the recognition for ALL they gave to this country. My People, from Buffalo Soldiers to Tuskegee Airmen, fought with valor and died with dignity in the face of vicious Racism for the United States. They fought and died so I had a fighting chance to taste the American Dream.

So I give thanks to our Ancestors who died so we… so I can live, free. I hope you take a moment this “Decoration Day” to do the same.

God bless America.

Happy Mother’s Day to ALL KINDS of Moms!

Today is Mother’s Day.
I don’t have kids, but I do have Happy.
He steals food from my plate.

He serves as my look out.

He has a social life and gets invited to his puppy pals birthday party and eats cake!

He is my baby.

I know Happy is a dog. And yes, as a Service Animal, he takes care of me. But one of the unexpected joys of my life is I get to take care of him.

Happy has the same significance (and fills the void of my barren womb) that I imagine a human child for mothers.

So on behalf of all fur moms, foster moms, grand moms raising their children’s children, same-sex moms of all genders, CIS born moms — HAPPY MOTHER’S Day!!!

White Power Love

My photographer/Creative Director quit on me 2 business days before my tech startup photoshoot for & by Black Women.

He was a Black Man I considered a friend.
In his defense, it’s clear to me now he was in WAY over his head & he had weak boundaries. As a creative I have BIG ideas. As a businesswoman I am willing to pay to have those ideas become reality. So instead of him saying “no” he kept agreeing. Had he once said, “no, I can’t do that,” we could have talked it through.

Instead, he quit, turned me into the enemy, & withdrew his entire team.

In the past, his actions would have been cause for upset or panic. I didn’t do either.

Instead, I prayed.

I prayed for guidance & clear instruction on what to do. I had 10 of the 65 Black Women Content Creators flying in (ON THEIR OWN DIME!!!) to be a part of this historic event. I was unwilling to have them be effected by “ol’ boy” taking his marbles & running home. So I took it to God.

God told me 3 times to call my friend Damien Noble Andrews, the Photographer & Creative Director of the VenusOpal brand. Damien’s mom recently transitioned & his wife has been ill.

He has a young son.
He also lives out of state.
So I didn’t want to reach out to him, but there was a more honest reason for not wanting to hire Damien for this project.

Damien is White.

I love being a Black Woman.
You know this.
The world knows this.

I have an intentional practice to hire & employ Black People. Keep in mind my teams are VERY diverse, but it matters to me that I walk my talk. I’m all about keeping Black money circulating in our communities as long as possible by purposely seeking out Black Business FIRST, in support of our economic emancipation.

So I hired a Black Man for this project & he quit at the last minute. I didn’t have the bandwidth to do anything BUT go into emergency mode.

Translation: I called my friends.

It was either cancel or let myself be supported by WHOMEVER God sent!🤣🤣🤣

Long story short, Damien, as an act of love, supported AND empowered my commitment to empower Black Women. He called in some of HIS FRIENDS, to help me have INCREDIBLE marketing collateral for this project.

Guess what? They were White.

I know you may be sick of hearing me say “Black” this or “White” that. I hear you. Trust me: I get sick of having to say it, but I want to make some very important points later so I need to disclose the race of the players now.

Bear with me.

The day was magical. The looks & photos are exquisite. The content creator interviews, which will be the free content on the app to show off the technology before a viewer chooses to subscribe, are tremendous!!

However, here are the 3 expansions that turned this breakdown into a breakthrough that opened me to a new dimension.

1. Flexibility creates opportunity. Damien was the person who came up with the idea to feature the 10 Content Creators stories on the app. I would NEVER have thought of that. Had I dug my heels in to find another “Black Photographer”(which Damien tried to find last minute!!!) we would not have amazing content to launch right out the gate!!!

2. When someone or something leaves, let them. God has something SO much better. My stylist for this shoot connected me to a Black fashion designer who gave me 20% off of her dresses AND wants to collaborate with me for this & other projects. The team I had before could NEVER have made this collaboration possible. Everything about what got created in 2 business days FAR EXCEEDS what I thought I was going to get from the previous team.

My point: Let go & let God.

3. Expand what an “ally” looks like. When George Floyd was publicly executed last year, it changed me. I turned all my platforms over to stopping the police from killing us. Right after Daunte Wright was mistakenly murdered by a police officer who thought she was using her taser instead of her gun, I did a video to my White Allies to do something.

After we had finished the shoot, Damien & I debriefed as we walked Happy. I said to him thank you, but it didn’t feel like enough.

So I tried again & said, “My words are too small to express the deeply level of gratitude for all you have done for me.

You have not just supported me – you have empowered 10 other Black Women to be heard in the world as well as every Black Woman who sees the marketing & subscribes to this app.

I thank you for being both my personal friend but also my ally in fostering a world were being Black is not a death sentence or a badge of disgrace & servitude.”

Damien’s eyes filled with tears.

Then he said something that changed me at my core.

Damien said, “Thanks for seeing all of that. Very few people do. There are us, some of us White people, who really are trying.”

My heart broke wide open.

In my pain, I can see now that I hadn’t accounted for how support, in terms of social change, looks MANY different ways. Some White people DID March with us last summer, in the 60s, and during the Civil War. While other White & Jewish people let us stay in their homes as an essential part of the success of the Underground Railroad.

Some allies don’t march.

They write anonymous checks.
Or they amplify Black Voices.
Or they lobby Congress.
Or they make sure their children play with children of different races.

My point is this: my personal story of healing & success INCLUDES the love, support, encouragement, access, & visibility given to me by MANY White People.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love my race or my people. It doesn’t mean my people haven’t suffered greatly at the hand of white privilege, White power, & White Supremacy – & it doesn’t mean that White people are saints & will sacrifice their privilege on my behalf.

ALL of that hate happened & it still effects us to this day.

What I am saying as I heal history in my own heart, I choose to acknowledge this truth: I have known amazing love from White people my entire life. Be it through churches, school teachers, classmates, or business mentors & peers. I would not be who I am without the White people in my life who let me rage out loud & NEVER tried to correct me or silence me.

They just loved me.

I can’t call all of their names, but I say thank you. Thank you for leveraging your privilege in service of justice.

Thank you for loving on me in my rage & never invalidating it, even when I raged at you.

Thank you for supporting my commitment to empowering Black Women instead of making me feel like I was being racist.

Also, thank you for being silent Warriors in service of equality & justice for all.

Simply put – thank you for leveraging your White power as an act of love.

I see you.
I hear your support.
I feel your love.

Thank you for being my friend.

I love you.
-Dr. Venus

We stand together #stopasianhate

I workout in Chinatown. My trainer, who is a viral testosterone-driven millennial, puts me through grueling workouts for someone my age.

So to make me feel better, he tells me to throw the medicine ball as hard as I can – & imagine it’s his face. We laugh but I feel vindicated.

Well little did I know, there was this precious mature woman mimicking ALL of the exercises my trainer was putting me through. AND she was CRUSHING them!!! #somuchforageism

She didn’t have a ball so I gave her mine & indicated she should slam it HARD & pretend it was my trainer’s face!! She laughed. So we played with the ball. My trainer took this footage.

When I think about the shooting in ATL that killed 8 victims (mostly women) at 3 different spas, I think of Emma Lazarus’ accurate quote: “Until we are all free, none of us are free.”

Not only are we not free, we are not safe until.

So I stand with my Asian Family against hate. White Supremacy is the enemy of EVERYONE who’s NOT a White Supremacist/Racist/Bigot.

We stand together. #stopasianhate

Watch the video here.