“Of The People, By The People & For The People”

Dear Readers,

I hope that everyone had a wonderful July 4th holiday. I cannot believe how quickly time has passed. I received many e-mails with best wishes for a happy summer, and just to say “hello.” Thank you for reaching out. I truly appreciate hearing from you. For today’s post, I am pleased to share information about The Honorable Yvette Clarke, one of Brooklyn’s favorite daughters.

Rep. Yvette Clarke - Wikipedia.com

Wikipedia.com

Many residents of Brooklyn’s new Ninth Congressional District were justly proud when Clarke was elected to be their Congresswoman in November 2006. The areas that fall under her careful stewardship include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, Ocean Hill, communities within Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Sheepshead Bay, Windsor Terrace and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, which is where I live.

I am equally excited that Congresswoman Clarke’s office is within walking distance from my apartment. There is great satisfaction in knowing that my Representative is so accessible.

Rep. Clarke & Dr. Una Clarke - via Jamaicangleaner.com

Rep. Clarke & Dr. Una Clarke – via Jamaicangleaner.com

Prior to her election as Congresswoman, Clarke served on the New York City Council where she represented Brooklyn’s 40th District. She has the distinction of succeeding her pioneering mother and former City Council Member Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, making them the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the Council.

As Brooklyn’s Representative for the Ninth Congressional District, Congresswoman Clarke stands by her commitment to the legacy of excellence set forth by the Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman and the first Caribbean-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Congresswoman Chisholm would become the first woman of African-American and Caribbean descent to run for President as a major-party candidate.

Shirley Chisholm - via Makers.com

Shirley Chisholm – via Makers.com

Like Congresswoman Chisholm, Clarke is an unwavering champion for the people of her native Brooklyn. While she presently holds the title of legislator, Clarke has effectively used her experiences as an activist and community organizer to become an effective leader and tireless advocate on issues of paramount importance to the people of Brooklyn; particularly jobs, immigration reform, education and housing. These are indeed weighty issues for they affect our nation. Today, I will focus on Clarke’s recent movement in the area of job creation and her fight for an increase in the minimum wage.  I will share additional information with you regarding her advocacy for immigration reform, education and housing in future posts.

H.R. 803 signed by Speaker Boehner - www.speaker.gov

H.R. 803 signed by Speaker Boehner – http://www.speaker.gov

On Thursday, July 10, 2014, Congresswoman Clarke released a statement on the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 – H.R. 803. The bill passed by 415 to 6.

“The people themselves have always been our most important resource. To remain competitive in the Twenty-First Century in an economy that includes every nation in the world, we must support people in the development of their individual capacities.”  Congresswoman Clarke goes further to say “I believe that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will allow more people to access training programs to develop the skills our economy needs.”

Photo via GerritsenBeach.net

Photo via GerritsenBeach.net

Two weeks ago, just before the July 4th holiday, Congresswoman Clark released a statement on the June Jobs Report, which indicated the long-term unemployment rate has declined to 2.0 percent, as more companies are hiring workers who had been unable to find a job for more than six months.  “This report demonstrates that our economy is rebounding.  Small business lead the way in creating 117,000 jobs last month and our economy has continued to recover from the economic crisis under the leadership of President Obama.”  Congresswoman Clarke also uses this upward movement to make the case for supporting an increase in the hourly wage.  “I’d also urge my colleges in the House of Representatives to allow for a vote on increasing the minimum wage.  There are millions of workers with full-time employment whose wages are insufficient to support their families.  An increase to $10.10 an hour would affirm the dignity of work, and allow millions of Americans to escape poverty.”

fortuneaskannie.files.wordpress.com

fortuneaskannie.files.wordpress.com

In early March, Congresswoman Clarke lobbied for a vote on unemployment benefits for Veterans. This request was based on a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities which determined that 200,00 veterans of the armed forces have already lost benefits this year.  This request was submitted to Speaker of the House John Boehner in a letter signed by 161 members of Congress.  In Clarke’s words, “the failure to extend unemployment benefits has been inexcusable.  The women and men of our armed forces who sacrified for us, their follow citizens and for their nation, deserve better from their representatives in Washington, D.C. The continued refusal of Republic leaders to schedule a vote on this matter demonstrates the intention to avoid the issue.  The soldiers who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and cannot find jobs, cannot avoid the issue and their obligations to their families.  We have a responsibility to act.”

I would like to close today’s post with a video featuring Congresswoman Clarke’s plea for the passage of a Jobs Bill.  For me, this is a stark reminder of why we need a dynamic leader, such as our esteemed Congresswoman, advocating on our behalf.

We are all in this together! Continue to be inspired. Also, do not be afraid to add your voice to the many issues that challenge us in today’s economy.

Credits:
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke – Clarke.house.gov
Wikipedia – Congresswoman Yvette Clarke – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yvette_Clarke

 

 

Brooklyn Legends Inspirations V – Embracing Autism

Dear Readers,

A few months ago I came across an article that many in my circle are talking about – In Praise of Imperfection which was written for More Magazine by Priscilla Gilman.

Mrs-marine.com

Mrs-marine.com

Ms. Gilman addresses the complicated subject of autism. Many of us have first-hand experience, or know someone who is managing a child with autism.  Growing up, I always felt there was a high degree of insensitivity to individuals with this disorder.  Now that I am older, I attribute this behavior to insufficient and/or incorrect information. Additionally, there are long-standing myths about autism that need to be refuted.

It is well-documented that with open communication, coupled with a genuine commitment to understanding the effects, these myths can be dispelled.  “It is critically important to know that a person with autism feels love, happiness, sadness and pain just as everyone else does.  While they may be challenged around how to express these feelings, this does not mean they do not have them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This myth, and others that have been perpetuated over the years, are the result of ignorance.”

bobbiblogger.wordpress.com

bobbiblogger.wordpress.com

Thankfully we now live in a time where parents, caretakers, and professionals have been empowered with the information they need to discuss the challenges they face with candor and sensitivity.  I am pleased to share with you Ms. Gilman’s article which addresses how she came to terms with her son’s struggle with autism and what she learned from him in the process.

In Praise of Imperfection

Twelve years ago, at 31 years old, I seemed to have all the components of a conventionally successful life: a handsome and brilliant husband, a promising career as an English professor at Yale, an adorable toddler and another baby on the way. But when, shortly before his third birthday, my son Benj was diagnosed with a host of special needs, the illusion of my perfect life fell away. Benj had been reading fluently, spelling complicated words, reciting swaths of poetry and doing math problems with ease since he was two, but now these gifts were revealed to be signs of hyperlexia, a developmental disorder often found in autistic children and characterized by early reading, challenges with verbal communication and impaired social skills. He had gross and fine-motor delays and sensory sensitivities. He suffered from intense anxiety about changes of plan. Aloof, meticulous and compulsive, he spent hours lining up his blocks and toys in fastidious rows.

I, on the other hand, was affectionate, messy and creative. How could I support a child who was so unlike me? As we went from one specialist to another, I hoped that I could learn how to communicate better with Benj, even if I couldn’t completely understand him.

pekoedc.net

pekoedc.net

One day a speech therapist was teaching Benj how to ask for help rather than scream in frustration or shut down. As I listened to her repeat the phrase I need help, I realized that I, too, had a hard time saying those words. I was the one who helped. My father had struggled with depression, and I had been the sunny presence that buoyed and comforted him. In school I counseled and offered advice to my friends. I’d minimized my own problems, and all this caregiving and bolstering, this inveterate optimism, had taken its toll on me.

I found a therapist and shared with her my worries about Benj. For the first time ever, I revealed myself as I was: afraid, vulnerable, in need of assistance. What Benj did literally, I soon understood, I had always done figuratively. He marshaled his toys and became agitated if anything was out of alignment. I had married young, planned an academic career and been the first of my friends to get pregnant. I’d plotted things carefully and wanted all the pieces in place. Tackling my child’s special needs had inadvertently freed me from perfectionism and the need to micromanage my future.

The next few years brought great progress for Benj and me. Rather than accelerating my career, I slowed down, reflected and worked on accepting myself. I wrote a memoir exposing my dark, scared feelings—a huge step for someone who’d guarded her inner life and written only dispassionate essays.

IMG_0063Being Benj’s mother has taught me how to celebrate each tiny milestone (Benj accepted a hug! Benj asked his little brother if he’d had a good day!), how to let go and let be, how to not fret over anticipated disaster and how to inhabit the present more fully. Helping him understand that problems will be thrown our way and that there isn’t always one definitive right answer has deepened my own understanding of the essential mystery at the heart of life. No longer what the poet Theodore Roethke calls “time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will,” Benj and I live the questions together.

Priscilla Gilman is the author of The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy.

Stay encouraged!
Monique

Credits:
____________________________________

Myths About Autism courtesy of Medical News Today
More Magazine, March 2014

 

Will All Roads Lead to Brooklyn in 2016?

Dear Readers,

The recent speculation around the 2016 Democratic National Convention coming to Brooklyn has everyone excited, and with good reason. Our borough is in the midst of a renaissance that we have never seen before.

The completion of the new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn set the stage for the new burst of enthusiasm around building projects. This is a time of tremendous growth, but there have also been some challenges too, which I would love to discuss in the coming months. I remember hearing many years ago that nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and true progress comes with a price. Having said this, I chose to remain excited about the possibilities for all Brooklyn residents.

logoYesterday the Brooklyn Daily Eagle featured a great article that caught the world’s attention: Local politicians say Brooklyn is perfect spot for 2016 Democratic National Convention.  Several elected officials have weighed in including: Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Representatives Jerrold Nadler (representing New York’s 10th district), Carolyn Maloney, (representing New York’s 12th district), Nydia Velazquez (representing New York’s 7th district), Yvette Clarke (representing New York’s 9th district) and Hakeem Jeffries (representing New York’s 8th district).  Of course this is just the beginning of a very long conversation, but if each elected official could wave a magic wand all roads will lead to Brooklyn in 2016.  As this is such a hot topic, we will continue to update you as events unfold.

Rep. Yvette Clarke - Wikipedia.com

Rep. Yvette Clarke – Wikipedia.com

Today, I would like to make special note of Representative Yvette Clarke’s commitment to bringing the 2016 Democratic National Council to Brooklyn.  The objective is to set the stage for a comprehensive look at her significant contributions, which date back to her early days as a member of the New York City Council representing Brooklyn’s 40th district.

Representative Clarke has the distinction of succeeding her mother, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the New York City Legislature.  This was the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the Council.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to live in the district that both of these esteemed women serve as leaders. Of course the stage was sent for them many years ago by the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman and Caribbean-American elected to Congress.  She would later run for President of the United States.

In closing, I wanted to leave you with this quote which, in my opinion, says it all.

“Brooklyn has always been the starting place for the American Dream where people from around the world have come to build a better future for themselves and their children.  The same spirit that animates Brooklyn animates the Democratic Party: the belief that everyone should have the opportunity for full participation in our society.  We are a diverse community that has much to share with our fellow Americans, as I believe the Democratic National Convention here in 2016 will demonstrate to the thousands of guests and millions of viewers at home.”

Representative Yvette Clarke
June 25, 2014
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

We at Brooklyn Legends are so proud to count Representative Clarke as one of Brooklyn’s favorite daughters. You will have a chance to learn more about her dedication in the coming weeks.

Monique

Credits:

________________________

Brooklyn Daily Eagle – June 25, 2014
Representative Yvette Clarke – http://clarke.house.gov

 

 

 

 

 

As We Begin Another Week – Press Forward

Quote

Dear Readers,

forces-of-nature-blog - tumblr.com

Like many of you, I am spending more time giving shape to my dreams for the future. There are times when I can come up with 100 different reasons why I can’t move forward.

Some days it can be something as simple as an insensitive remark by someone who already has way too much to cope with, to my own feelings of insecurity about what will people think if I achieve this?  Will they care enough about my dreams to understand why them are important to me?  Are my dreams relevant in the space that we now live?

After weeks (or what felt like weeks) of this incessant dialogue, I realize that I was stuck.  The answer came in the form of a quote by Mother Teresa that now serves as a screen saver on my iPad.  I am sharing it below, in the hope that you will continue to be encouraged and move in the direction of your dreams.

Have a great day!
Monique

IMG_0027

 

Quintessential Elegance – In Memory of Ruby Dee

Dear Readers,

Another beautiful Legend has made her transition, the elegant Ms. Ruby Dee.  I am so heartened by the many posts about her life and talent.  She was truly one of the giants of stage and screen.  If I live to be 91, I certainly hope that I age as gracefully as she did.

My fondest memory of this Grand Dame was her performance in one of my favorite plays – A Raisin In The Sun, which premiered in 1961.  Ms. Dee starred as Ruth Younger, a steadying presence for her husband Walter Lee Younger, portrayed by Sidney Poitier; her mother-in-law Lena Younger, portrayed by Claudia McNeil and her sister-in-law Beneatha Younger, portrayed by Diana Sands.

A Raisin In The Sun addressed the ever-present civil rights issues of that time - racial discrimination in housing and impediments to economic advancement due to limited employment opportunities.  Despite these challenges, there were three aspects of this story that I am most fond of: the family’s decision to move into their new home in the Lakewood section of Chicago despite attempts to dissuade them, Beneatha’s dream of becoming a doctor, which was rarely seen on film during that time in our history and the prominent status given to each of Beneatha’s male suitors.

Ms. Dee’s appearance in this play (and movie) did not come as a surprise to her family, friends and colleagues.  Like her husband, Ossie Davis, she took an active role in the fight for civil rights and used her status to promote the cause of African-Americans in the entertainment industry.   In 1963 this dynamic couple served as Masters of Ceremonies for the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  When the world said goodbye to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she and her husband were there.  Similarly, when the world bid farewell to Malcolm X, they were also present.  These are just a few examples of their many contributions to the cause of racial and social justice.

Brooklyn Legends joins the world in saluting the life and legacy of the great Ms. Ruby Dee.  She was truly a woman of style and substance.  For me, she had a quintessential elegance that I will always remember.

I would like to close this post with a quote from her daughter: Nora Davis Day:

We gave her our permission to set sail.
She opened her eyes, closed her eyes and away she went
.”

images

Fondly,
Monique

Memories of My Father

Dear Readers,

With this post comes my very best wishes to all fathers throughout the world.  I came across a quote by Billy Graham that made me realize how under appreciated fathers can feel.

A good father is one of the most unsung, unpriced, unnoticed, and yet
one of the most valuable assets in our society.

After reading this, I am inclined (somewhat) to agree with this statement.  Simply put – we must do better.  Next month will mark the 10 year anniversary of my father’s passing.  As I write this, I realize that I have not really shared memories of my father in this medium, owing simply to my need to reconcile the sadness.

My father’s name was Herbert Brizz.  He struggled with stomach cancer for many years, and his last days were painful for both of us.  Nevertheless it was my honor to walk the last step of his journey with him, for I realize the time will come someone will hold my hand as I let go of the pain and make my transition.  Watching him during his last days, I realize that he struggled to fight until I reassured him that all was well and that I understood his time had come.  I told him that I would be okay and promised to take care of myself.  Only then, did I see his struggle end. I am convinced that this reassurance is truly the last act of love that we can give to another person.

I am grateful to my father for his quiet strength, and his wisdom.  There was something gentle in his voice, he never screamed or shouted.  He had what I refer to as a quite personality.  In many ways he was a “quiet voice of reason” that my friends, over the years, have come to attribute to me.  In future posts, I will share more of him with you.  For now, I will close with the good memories I have of him, and I will hold onto them forever.

Please remember if your father (or father-figure) is no longer living, you can still celebrate him!  If he is still with you, then everyday is Father’s Day!

Monique

 

As We Begin Another Week – The “Quality of Our Intent”

Dear Readers,

Happy Monday!  I hope that you had a restful, yet enjoyable weekend.  Since last week, I have been replayed discussions with colleagues and business acquaintances about character.  Each conversation revolved around how we treat people and our perception of how people treat us.  Are we consistent in our actions – good or bad?  Even more intriguing, are they? Again, the same criteria applies - good or bad?

I am still working through the situations that challenged me.  However, I came across these two quotes that encouraged me.  I wanted to share them with you.  I hope they will be useful to you at some point.

IMG_0281

Robin Davidman via Pinterest

Robin Davidman via Pinterest

Have a great day and remember to stay encouraged.

Fondly,
Monique