Jolted

Poem, NPM Make-Up Day 2

It has come to my attention
with speed of lightning from above
thus compelled I am to mention
I must find another love.

— ava wood

Sandy beach photo

 

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly: My Video for Valentine’s Day

PHILANTHROPY simply means: love of what it means to be human.

I’m a bit of a dreamer, but wouldn’t it be great if we heeded the message of this video?
GBP Exhibit Photography_Darian's Heart_9743

#getyourgiveon

Someday

Someday at Christmas man will not fail
Hate will be gone and love will prevail

— Stevie Wonder

Candle

A holiday fave. Take a listen!

Have a Wonder-filled Christmas!!!

Valentine’s Day Love via Video

Keeping it simple today with a video…particularly since a picture speaks a thousand words and since music begins wherwords end.

Watch: Valentine’s Day Love via Video

L-O-V-E | Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

L-O-V-E | Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

Love,

VF

(there’s music so check your volume)

‘No Man Is An Island’

Referring to my Lab’s name Bali, I used to quote John Donne (see below) and joke that while “no man is an island,” a dog can be. My work in the international field took me to the paradise isle of Bali, Indonesia on numerous occasions, and it became a favorite vacation spot and the place of many sweet memories. So when I brought home my six-weeks-old puppy a decade ago, her name had already been chosen years prior.

After naming her for an island, I soon learned she would become anything but. For ten years Bali and I were in essence inseparable, and today I lost a piece of me. A furry “clod” of the best kind has left my world…and tonight my heart feels shattered.

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Seven Generations and One Hundred, Ten Years Ago

Christian and Riley McGimpsey with family and friends, 1903

Christian and Riley McGimpsey with family and friends, 1903

This is a story about Riley R. McGimpsey (28 Mar 1845 – 20 Apr 1934), my great-great-grandfather, as told to me by my elder cousin Nettie McGimpsey McIntosh for my book Giving Back:

Despite common perceptions, Black men have long been industrious. And evidently my grandfather Riley was as hardworking as men of any race come. I call him a Black entrepreneur, but back then industrious is the word people used.

I archive and keep our family’s history. I have scoured over family artifacts and Census data. Some time in the mid-1800s on the McGimpsey farm in Burke County, North Carolina, a slave named Clarissa gave birth to a son she named Riley. While born into slavery, Riley eventually became a sharecropper who sold his part of the produce—corn, wheat, molasses and such. Documents I have come across show his products sold as far away as Mullins, South Carolina, which was hundreds of miles from the farmland of Fonta Flora. He even owned one of the county’s few reaper-binders and loaned it out to others.

Fondly remembered and respected by people all over the county, my grandfather prospered in farming and with various small enterprises. He grew well known for giving away fresh produce and all kinds of things to community people, regardless of color. Riley was born a slave, but died an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Don’t let a meager start or scant resources limit what you do in life.

The portrait above is on display at the History Museum of Burke County. Riley is seated on the far right and his wife Christian V. Moore McGimpsey is seated next to him. Their daughter Mary Maldonia, who is my great-grandmother is seated on the far left.

Fast forward one hundred and ten years: There will be a family reunion this summer, kicking off at the History Museum of Burke County, with five more generations—the far-flung descendants of Maldonia McGimpsey and the man she would later marry John Wesley Fullwood. Cannot wait!

— VF

a meticulously beautiful life

some lower flags to mark a death. here instead is a lower case tribute. perchance, writing will raise my spirit because i’ve been sad all day long.

shaken hard sums me up today since some random web-browsing last night led me to stumble upon the stunning news of a friend’s death…six months ago.

i’ve forever been blessed by an expansive circle of friends of every order. dearest ones i’ve never known life without. a good many found at school and in college. numerous others defining and enriching every chapter of my life.

with a few, the bond remains seamless and the chit-chatting endless. then there are some to dial up or meet up with once a year or so. others go faraway though forever stay near to heart. denyse was the latter and among the rarest of friends. after an instant spark and then years and years apart, she was an unforgettable force who left a profound mark.

denyse created amazing art and showed me how to live fully and fiercely. the meticulous beauty of her life, as she appeared to will each and every one of her dreams into being, makes the loss bittersweet. her passing has left behind a highly regarded body of artistic works; the love of her life with a broken heart; a precious two-year-old whom she adored; grieving family, students, colleagues and admirers; and an unquestionable and permanent imprint on me.

this article and short film tell some of her story: http://www.gwarlingo.com/2012/samein-priester-on-fatherhood-film-loss-of-his-wife-artist-denyse-thomasos/

— vf

‘Root Meaning’ Grasped

L-O-V-E | Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

Recent media coverage of my op-ed delights me. While the piece was written for black media to mark National Philanthropy Day (November 15), its message holds relevance for everyone, any time.

Individuals, networks and media groups amplified the commentary by publishing and sharing it widely. My thanks to all who ran or read it. Below is a list of places where I’m aware it appeared. If you saw the piece elsewhere, please let me know. Now, go get your give on!

Reclaiming The Root Meaning of Philanthropy

  Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root.’ — Angela Davis

Let’s engage in the radical work of reclaiming the root meaning of philanthropy: love of humanity. Philanthropy, a curious word to many, evokes a range of images, beliefs and emotions. To contemplate its semantics and evolution and then to initiate anew our collective philanthropic practice could prove a seminal undertaking for black America.

This moment hangs ripe. The “season of giving” is near and clears the way to a new year of possibilities. The election of President Barack H. Obama has substantiated, again, the might of black unity. And yet, between the hopes and history making and the thanks and gifts giving are uncharitable acts and vitriol that signal a shift back in time, not forward. Indignities, inequities and injustices do not simply dissipate; instead, we must come together in systematically uprooting them.

With community needs great and the need for unity greater, the times beckon a new era of conscientious philanthropy rooted in a love for community and expectations of social change. Let this generation, both young and old, embody a social transformation with bold recognition of our power and responsibility to give back.

Philanthropy is a gateway to power. It is a chief means to acquiring, sustaining and strengthening our status—economically, politically, socially and spiritually. Our ancestors knew this. They originated and supported systems for giving and assisted members of the community, whether neighbor, stranger or kin. Remarkably, a fundamental source of our progress at times seems forgotten.

Remembering our long and prolific history of philanthropy is crucial. Historical accounts of black largesse and examples of culturally significant vehicles of giving abound. Look up the Free African Society, an 18th century mutual aid organization established by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. Study the social justice philanthropy of the legendary Madam CJ Walker. Before the Civil War, up through the Civil Rights struggle and after, our forebears charted paths and lay blueprints for progress. While the impulse to “give back” lives on in the community and opportunities exist to bring new twists to old traditions, this work must be encouraged and nurtured.

In the starkest of ironies, black Americans give the highest percentage of discretionary income to charitable causes when compared to other racial groups in America; and yet our philanthropy is discounted and overlooked by mainstream society. Indeed, within the black community, our traditions of giving are seldom acknowledged or celebrated, or even described as philanthropy. Absurd as it is, this cultural disconnect persists for many reasons and shortchanges us all.

Ideas and images of present-day philanthropy frequently fail to resonate and, worse yet, serve to alienate black Americans. Particularly unsettling is the stunning absence of black people in representations of philanthropists—a few select luminaries notwithstanding. A point of view endures that renders black donors and benefactors, in effect, invisible. The familiar picture of philanthropy is narrowly framed and thus gives a false impression that the only giving that matters is beyond the average person’s means.

On the demand side of philanthropy—as beneficiaries and “the needy”—is a common context for depictions of black children, families and communities. While but one facet of philanthropy, imagery around whites as the benefactors and blacks as those in need has devolved into a stubborn stereotype and produced a picture that distorts and is incomplete.

A richer picture exists. Widening the lens to include our customs and stories of giving yields a different view. Vibrant philanthropy is occurring in black communities, whether labeled as such or not. Even so, great promise rests in sharpening our focus to affect social change. Collectively, black America possesses the assets—heart, head, heritage and dollars—to eradicate a host of social ills. With our legacy of generosity, our shared stake in change and our capacity to leverage centuries-long gains in wealth, education and access, how could we not?

Exercising this power first requires a shift in thinking and wider recognition of the power of black philanthropy. Strategic alliances among black donors, across black communities and with institutional partners also are vital.

Significant in seizing the moment and sustaining the effort is love. Love of family. Love of culture. Love for thy neighbor as thyself. In its truest sense, philanthropy is rooted in love. Advancing social change with that spirit opens opportunities for everyone to participate and fixes the focus on liberating people not elevating oneself.

Putting our money where our heart lies. That is the charge. Begin doing your part today by deepening your knowledge of philanthropy, by examining your motivations for giving and by joining with others to grasp at the root causes of our collective concerns—for love.

Valaida