Travel Tuesday’s #IAmBecoming

What page are you on? I am listening to it on Audible, have about an hour to go and it has been oh so good. I love to read and it is even better when you feel like you are part of the story. With every word I feel like I know Southside, her pain of failing the bar exam, and her first meeting with Barack.

I spent many a summer in Chicago with family, so it was interesting to hear her story of growing up there. I have my own fond memories of the cold winters and the very hot summers spent with my Aunts, Uncle & cousins in Oak Park. Adding her political and socioeconomic context to the story such as explaining “white flight” which my parents often tell me about experiencing right here in Brooklyn was almost listening to a family member tell there story. So much seems so familiar listening to her Becoming as I go through my own journey of Becoming!

Get into it! It will take you on a journey.

Cheers to evolving,

Danalee Francesca 💋

Black History Month: Alma Thomas – FLOTUS

The First Lady unveiled the newly renovated dining room at the White House, adding a dash of modern decor. This is the first time a First Lady has introduced 20th Century art to the White House. Highlighting this great room are several modern pieces by American artists and artisans. One particular piece that Flotus spoke of is by Alma Thomas. She is the first African-American female to have her art shown in the White House. The piece chosen is called Resurrection, which is fitting wouldn’t you say. Kudos to Flotus for inspiring us to uplift and support other women as you have here.


Alma Thomas at Whitney Museum Exhibition Opening. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Ms. Thomas attended Howard University in 1921 and earned her BS in Fine Arts in 1924. She was the first graduate from the university fine art program. In 1934, she earned her Masters in Art Education from Columbia University. An Expressionist painter and art educator, she was the first African-American woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and within the same year an exhibition was also held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1972.

She tried a new kind of painting. Painting everything she saw in her garden. She watched the changes her garden went through. That influenced the ways she could change her paintings, to be more like that fascinating world she saw outside her Washington D.C. window.

“I got some watercolors and some crayons, and I began dabbling,” she said. “Little dabs of color that spread out very free…that’s how it all began. And every morning since then, the wind has given me new colors through the windowpanes.” I think Ms. Thomas would be happy to know that her happy garden is sitting in the White House Dining Room.

May the wind bring you new colors everyday, as it did Ms. Thomas


Dedicated to Vanessa and all the women that support and uplift one another.

Today Is the Day We Became One: The Dream Realized

Chronicling this event has been momentous for both my family and I. From the time that President Obama took the Oath of Office to the the time the President and First Lady embraced for their Inaugural First Dance, this day has been full of historic moments. The world cannot get enough of this event and I cannot get enough of this moment in time, for so many reasons. Being able to see this moment through my parents eyes as St. Lucians and as Americans has brought me joy that is immeasurable. They came to America in the 1960’s in search of that American Dream and along the way did experience their own setbacks but were not moved and worked even harder. They’ve worked hard for me as did our ancestors worked hard for all of us. All that hard-work of our ancestors came to a culmination today with the Inauguration of the First African-American President.

Yes We Did! This is how I will remember this day….

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more. Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Close Enough

I let a week pass before I discussed the utter exuberance I felt last week Tuesday. There have been so many comments, opinions and emotions that I needed to let it marinate before I spoke on it! First and foremost, Congratulations to President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their families! I know technically, I should say President-Elect but I can’t wait 71 days, La fete est complet (French saying for the party is done!)

The city was live last week with Obama supporters hugging, crying and just screaming because of the excitement of getting it right this time. I was one of those Obama supporters crying and hugging strangers, but not strangers at all because we share so many common goals in life. I cried because I saw myself in Obama, I saw myself in Michelle, being a fellow attorney, being a woman, being Black! Obama symbolizes exactly what I saw that night in NYC: Unity. He does something to people that is quite infectious, he moves people toward a positive change.

I listened to Street Soldiers yesterday, a radio broadcast on Hot 97.1 hosted by Lisa Evers. The guest panel, Dr. Jeff Garde, psychologist, Sakia Sandefur, co-author of his book with Kanye West and Mike Muse, who worked on the Obama Campaign. They discussed many issues facing this Change that has come about. They touched upon relationships, in seeing how Michelle supported Barack and that he is with a Black woman, how children will have a new perspective on race, how the young black community is effected, how it is now acceptable to be smart or a nerd as some may describe. But, one statement did stick with me “drinking the Obama Kool-Aid” meaning that today people feel empowered to move in a manner to bring about change but tomorrow the movement tends to dissipate. We go through that on a daily basis in our lives, one day you are gung-ho about your career, a relationship, a new opportunity and the next day if something negative happens then you change your mind about everything. However, I want people to remember that this is not a one day celebration, don’t just drink the Obama Kool-Aid and not try to bring about change in your own life. You must look at this movement as a everyday stride. We have to support and be proactive and not seat on our laurels. Don’t let the slight instance of imperfection or a negative situation slow down your involvement in this movement of Change. It was not enough to vote for the change, now we have to continue to walk the walk. Sorry, don’t mean to preach, but I do because this goes for me as well!

The road ahead will be long and hard as Obama said, but I urge you to not criticize so harshly if things are not perfect. My new mantra besides Change is Close Enough! Let’s say it together people “Close Enough.” Close Enough is not a cop-out. It just means that we should not loose our momentum for the Change we have believed in and witnessed come to fruition on November 4th. Let’s not look at the glass half empty if, like I said before, things are not perfect. When people begin to scrutinize your decisions, I will applaud you President Obama and Vice President Biden for getting “Close Enough.” Throughout history, think of the many people, political religious and the like, that tried so hard to bring about change and got close enough but were still criticized. I feel that it will not be any different for this administration. They have come into this situation with great obstacles to surmount. But, I think we should realize we are on the path to change and should not loose sight of that in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

The Quintessential Fashionista: First Lady Michelle Obama

On a Fashion note let’s discuss Michelle Obama, one of the Top Fashionista’s in my book. My friend, Oni, commented that her choice in the way she dresses is “classy and regal” and not like the past First Ladies. I agree Oni! I absolutely love her sense of style and the Narcisco Rodriguez dress she wore that night was hot! Of course some called it the Hell Dress, blah blah blah, she is her own person and that’s why they criticize. That is what a Fashionista is all about, being your own person, not being in competition with others! One last note, my absolute favorite moment that night (everyone agrees) is when she and Barack embraced, kissed and she said I love you! It was beautiful to see that type of chemistry between the two of them! It was their private moment in the midst of millions watching. Can I tell you why that relationship works? It works because they are not in competition with each other. Most relationships fail because secretly one person is insecure or competing with the other party. Here Michelle has decided for herself what her role will be as First Lady, she is her own person and because of that I applaud you. She is holding down her man and her family! Take note Ladies and Gentlemen 🙂