Monday, March 15, 2021

What A Difference a Day Makes

This is an adaptation of a reflection I offered recently (February 27) on the daily prayer call that I coordinate. I am generally not in the habit of contributing my own voice to this particular endeavor because I am not very comfortable as a contemporaneous speaker. However, this past year has been one of stepping outside of my self-contained comfort zone. What I have posted here are the notes from my speaking outline, what I actually said on the call, and a little more to fill in the spaces. Because I got positive feedback, I wanted to share it for posterity.

What A Difference A Day Makes is a song by jazz/blues singer Dinah Washington, which she recorded in 1959. She also won a Grammy for the song, and it inspired this reflection as I was thinking about the events that were taking place this time a year ago.

You see, a year ago when this prayer call was still only on Mondays, it was just around this time that our service changed and we got a new call-in number. For those who had been calling into the prayer call prior to last February know that we had been dialing in to a different number, one that I had made available for use when this prayer line was established back in 2014. And that number came with a free conference call service that I had signed up for back in 2010, when I had no idea that we could do anything other than call in--no ability mute lines, or anything like that. Thus, when I learned that the number would be changing, I did not know that meant an upgrade to the service. That was functionality I would discover later.

But a year ago when our number changed, I was in Florida on Winter Break with my family. A week later, we would travel to New York City for my niece's baby shower, and while we were there, we knew about the coronavirus but had no idea how bad it could be. At the time, we were told that this virus would be contained because of a travel ban, and that any isolated cases would be minimal. Sitting at the table with my in-laws, we assumed that all would be well, even though there was already an outbreak of cases on the West Coast.

Literally, within a week, New York City went on lock-down. And then a week later, so would the DC area. The Sunday of our first week of quarantine, Rev. TB suggested that our Monday prayer call should become a daily call to last for the duration of the quarantine. And I agreed, because at the time, my beleif was that this was to be a temporary situation. Maybe for a month.

At that point, what a difference a couple of weeks had made. A month before the pandemic, my biggest worry was how the city was going to dispose of a deer that had died in my backyard. In a month, my biggest worry was whether I could protect my family from a virus that no one knew much about.

Over the course of the days that became weeks and then months, our daily prayer call continued on and it began to grow. At a certain point, it became necessary to figure out how to better manage the call or perhaps upgrade to a paid service in order gain more control of the technical aspects of the call. That was how I learned about the moderator controls, and how I came to provide an opening greeting every morning a few minutes before the start of the call. I learned that I could manage the call from my computer and how to selectively mute and un-mute callers on the line. During a re-organizing session with Rev. TB, we outlined a schedule and some new procedures, and he suggested that I could offer reflections if I felt so inclined. And I was pretty clear then that I did not feel so inclined--I was happy to remain behind the scenes on the technical side of things.

When I reflect on the words of our theme song for today, the lyrics refer to the change that can occur overnight. Based on something that is said or an action, our emotions can go from one extreme to the other. The song is about love and relationships, but in a day, we know that any and everything are bound to change.

I think specifically back to November and the roller coaster of emotions I experienced Election Week. I went from hope to despair and back to hope in a span of days. Then we went through the same process in January, from hope to horror and then back to hope. When we look back over this past year, this cycle has repeated itself multiple times.

How have you changed for the better during this pandemic? What difference have these days, weeks, and months made in your life? Do you pray more? How are you engaged in fellowship with others? Have you found new and innovative ways to express your creativity? How have you improved? What do you need to change moving forward?

In response to those questions, I thought I would offer an example from my own life. Having the courage to offer a reflection on this prayer call has been a major change. As I mentioned, Rev. TB suggested that I should feel free to offer an occasional reflection, and as Mother P is my witness, I said no thank you. And for months, I was content to stay in my lane, which was behind the scenes. But God tends to have other ideas about what we are capable of, so one day last summer at the last minute, Rev. TB couldn't make the call and I thought it was too late to ask Mother P to prepare a reflection for the next morning. So, I found my voice. I recall how it all unfolded because it was a mixture of confidence (how hard can this be) and terror (who do I think I am). I sat outside in my backyard with my notes and spoke about the seeds that I had planted in containers. A few weeks later, I gave another reflection for Rev. TB's birthday. And here I am today, under similar circumstances--stepping out of my comfort zone, finding my voice.

During this pandemic, are there friends or family that you haven't spoken to in years? Have you thought about them, have you reached out? Have you been willing to forgive some ancient wrong or sought forgiveness for some hurt you may have caused someone else?

Through this pandemic God has been telling us that we have time. We have learned that we have lots of time, but also not nearly enough. We have time to repair old relationships. We have time to learn new skills. We have time for prayer and worship. We have time to grow in grace. But we were not given this time to squander or waste.

What a difference a day makes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Shot Heard 'Round the World

On the Sunday morning before the great Harry and Meghan interview, one of my Facebook friends posted that if one is going to take aim at the Crown, they better not miss. On the morning after, my response was:

Once again proving that America was right to disentangle itself from that Empire of inbreds and soggy tea bags.

As every Black man on social media shook his head and reminded us that we (Black women) should have known better than to have thought that the British Royals had evolved, I just want to remind them that we have also been telling everybody to listen to Black women, because as confirmed by Prince Harry, it saved his life.

Now, this won't be a finger wagging versus pearl clutching piece, because all of that was done in the moment. What Harry and Meghan did was remarkable, not for what they said, but that they actually said what they said. It was astonishing that they were willing to take aim at the Establishment, considering that it has likely led to permanent exile. And they seem fine with that, which is exactly the same energy we got from Princess Diana years ago when she gave her tell-all eff you interview that similarly revealed the dingy lace doilies under the Windsor tea sets. 

I won't re-state too much of what has already been said because the so-called Royal watchers and gossip columnists who make their living as the 'anonymous palace sources confirm' on any given topic have already done that. Some of them even started in on Meghan and Harry days before the Oprah delivered the goods. And even though we knew that the royal media reaction from the usual suspects was going to be anti-Meghan, who knew it would be so personal Piers Morgan and Megyn Santa-is-white-and-Jesus-too Kelly

There were bombs bursting in air aplenty, but there was also a lot that was unsaid. I want to know why Harry felt it was no big deal to drop that bomb about his Dad not taking his calls, but shut down and refused to discuss his brother. I want to know why Kate Middleton made Meghan cry the week of her wedding over flower girl dresses. I want to know how many pieces of silver the Thomas Markle branch of the family tree was paid to feed these destructive narratives to the British tabloid press about our American Duchess. I want to know which bitch in the House of Windsor had the audacity to question how the world was going to respond to my ginger brown nephew and forthcoming niece. 

(Yeah, Harry has now officially been adopted by the Diaspora, so Auntie YaYa is ready to throw hands.)

I know that we aren't British subjects and that most of you woke folks don't care. And that's your preference, even though y'all care a whole lot about Beyonce and her overpriced Ivy Park underwear. You can judge me or judge yo mamma.

Let's start with the Windsor family drama of son versus father (future King) versus brother (future future King). Prince Harry, who has known all of his life that he would never ascend to the throne, assumed it was his job was to make the others look good for their future roles. So he and his bride got to work, attending fancy dress parties and watching the soldiers march back and forth. Then the Queen sent them abroad to Australia, where even the kangaroos and the dingoes were charmed by them, so methinks somebody got all jeally. Suddenly Meghan is a baby-bump rubbing bitch who is draining the world of its water to supply her avocado toast cravings. And poor Katie M's feelings were hurt over some flower girl dresses worn at a wedding that wasn't hers to micromanage. Someone had herself a little Bridezilla dare she?

Mind you, none of those little darlings came from the bride's family. Not her little cousin Imani or her nephew Freddie because they couldn't make the multiple trips overseas for the fittings. In fact, the only member of Meg's family to attend the wedding was her Mama because her Daddy acted up and got himself disinvited. Imagine how that conversation went down, so yeah, Katie, I'm the bride. Because if my Aunt Ruthie was here...oh yeah, that's right, I can't even invite my own family to my own damn wedding. She and the rest of my Cali folks have to wake up at 3am to watch it on TV. Woosah!

And as Meg stormed off to dry her face, a confused Katie M wonders aloud: whatever was that about and what is a woosah? I think she insulted me. Who does she think she is? I am the future future Queen!

We know the deal. Make a white woman cry and everybody has a handkerchief.

Sometime during that transition between trimesters when all hell breaks loose because of hormones, and Meg is trapped in the house with nowhere to go because they have her car keys, her driver's license, her credit cards, and her passport, she questions her existence. She looks in the mirror and sees that belly, the changes in her appearance, and endures all of the various ailments that accompany pregnancy in the midst of strangers. Then she looks at the news and sees the unflattering pictures and divisive headlines, and she wonders how did I get here. So she senses that she's on the edge and asks for help, but some bitter lemon with too many hairpins in her chignon reminds her for the umpteenth time that you, actress Meghan Markle, are lucky to even be here. A million girls would kill to live in this palace. And after hearing that sentiment spat at her for the umpteenth time, Meghan snaps at a member of the household staff for not doing something the way she had asked for it to be done, always nicely, but persistently for months.

The rattled staff member huddles with the others after hours to gossip about the Duchess and her moodiness of late. They joke that she's eating a lot more ice cream and how she looks heavier than Katie M did when she was at the same point in her previous pregnancies. That's the Black half of her asserting itself, it's in the genes. And they all snicker, but in that space after the laughter stops, someone asks does that mean the baby will have big lips or a broad nose? Unbeknownst to the gathering, Harry has come home and overhears part of the conversation. Three staffers are dismissed.

Later at some informal event attended by the future King and the future future King and other assorted royals, Harry mentions that he let some of the household staff go for making insensitive remarks about Meghan and the baby. An awkward silence follows, broken by the query that later becomes his great awakening...well, have you thought about what the baby will look like, how dark will it be? Harry's eyes narrow, and he abruptly but politely excuses himself to go home. 

Meghan is sitting in the dark in their bedroom, alone and crying. One of the Markles is on television again. Earlier in the day, Mrs. Bitter Lemon Curd let it slip that their child probably won't get an official title, because what is the precedent for such a thing? And once again, Harry hears another dehumanizing reference to his unborn child. When Meg tells him that three staffers quit and Mrs. Lemon Curd suggested that it was starting to reflect poorly that she couldn't get along with the household staff, Harry reassures her that he will handle it (hence another reassignment the next morning). In the middle of the night as he tosses over the references made to his unborn child as an 'it' and 'such a thing', he finds his wife sobbing in the bathroom. And in the jumbled way that the pregnant mind expresses itself, she asks, am I that terrible for wanting this task done as I had asked for it to be done so many times? Was it a breach of protocol to make such a fuss? Do you see how they talk about you in the press? Maybe you would be better off without me. 

And two days later, after the picture of Meg in the blue sequinned dress is published, he informs her of his plans for their escape.

After thinking through what it must have been like for them in that fishbowl, I am amazed that they lasted as long as they did. The most common refrain I've read: she should have known what she was getting herself into. As if. Among those who are reading this and are/were married, did you know? Did you walk down that aisle into the happily ever after you dreamed it would be, or did you wake up to bills, kids, in-laws, illnesses, and other assorted drama? What should she have known--that after the grand spectacle of a wedding and the eyes of the world upon them, the press would decide that they could sell more papers by pitting her against her sister-in-law? The sainted Katie M, who already had the advantage of having been William's college sweetheart and mother of the future future future King? Meghan just wanted to enjoy her fairy tale and Harry thought he knew his family.

Having just watched and written about Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the Windsors have proven to be the real life Drayton family. They were welcoming of Meghan in the beginning, because what other choice did they have? Who was going to tell Harry otherwise as we were all taken in by the whirlwind of excitement (I certainly was). And even when there were less careful and thoughtless faux pas, like when that cousin showed up for brunch wearing that tacky Blackamoor brooch, we turned the other cheek and assumed she was an outlier. But no, that's still Meghan who is the raisin in their milk. 

Turns out, there is a precedent for granting official titles to divorcees who marry into the Queen's extended family. Meghan married into the immediate family in the direct line of succession but is not a princess for whatever archaic reason, and we're supposed to believe that the Queen doesn't have the authority to waive protocol. Regardless of their personal affection for each other, in my mind Meghan was right to feel some kind of way about being expected to work on the level of a senior royal without any of the perks (other than a closet full of designer clothes).

So let's go through the checklist of disappointments and microaggressions: the Firm's golden padlock on their gilded cage; unfair comparisons to Katie M in the press; untrustworthy and disloyal household staff; the betrayals and bullshit from her own father; and the wounded ego of some dude who bought her drinks five years ago.

If your reaction to all of that is to shrug and dismiss her as some spoiled rich chick with royal problems, Auntie's got something to say about that as well. We care about all kinds of business that isn't ours, but when it comes to a Black woman in distress, suddenly the world is all cried out. All of this emotional bandwidth for the Queen and Katie M--also two rich chicks with royal problems, but hint that the difference in responses might have something to do with race, then we're being unfair. Y'all get madder at the implication than the facts. We are talking about a family that symbolizes a global colonial empire. She's not the only commoner in the ranks, nor is she the first American. But...

I won't say it, but ask why everyone is so polarized. Ask why her choices become full-blown scandals that would otherwise be written off if she were someone else. Even her jewelry is controversial despite the fact that half the Crown jewels were mined from former colonies of the Empire in Africa and Asia. Shall we talk about where they get their tea and sugar too? But go on and tell us how Markle is just a pampered princess; nevermind that y'all still wouldn't have any more sympathy for a poor Black woman. You would berate her for her bad choices. You would tell a middle class Black woman who spoke up about her mental health issues during her pregnancy to go home, light a candle, and meditate--and then possibly watch her die in childbirth. You complain about the tax dollars being wasted on public housing, Head Start, and food stamps for people who work for minimum wages. But corporate welfare and propping up an archaic monarchy aren't proof of any kind of implicit bias.

Your lack of empathy for Black women, regardless of class isn't a revelation to us. But Harry's love is. 

And the shot heard 'round the world is that Diana's baby boy is a better man and a real Prince, with or without the formal titles. I read Her Majesty's statement. Protect your Crown madam, while your grandson protects his wife and children. And don't trouble yourself to investigate who said what, because the allegations alone are an indictment of the institution, rather than individual actors. That you would make this statement now, but said nothing until now is the point.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Coming Back to America

So where do I start: I've watched Coming 2 America and just in time for Women's History Month, I get to review an Eddie Murphy movie for its inadvertent attempt at a...feminist message??? 

Yes, that's what I wrote, and in my intentional attempt not to spoil it anymore than Black Twitter already has, there were a lot of takeaways from this film, beginning with the realization that a lot has changed in 30+ years. And a good deal of that is reflected in this sequel, the result of which is not necessarily the movie we thought it might be, but then again what should we have expected thirty years later? We should have learned our lesson after what happened with The Best Man Holiday. However, Black actors need the work, and that pile of dirty laundry won't sort, wash, or fold itself. This will definitely get you through two loads.

I haven't had a chance to read all of the ancillary articles that have been written about who didn't return to Zamunda and why, but I have my list of folks whom I felt should have at least been offered a cameo. Let's start with Lisa's sister Patrice, played by Allison Dean in the original movie. Somehow, I feel as if a very humorous side story could have been built around her presence, at the very least, she should have been running the Queens location of McDowell's. And what about the landlord, portrayed by Frankie Faison? Because if y'all went and scraped the barrel to find the rapping twins from the nightclub and somehow justified keeping the barber shop quartet alive all of these years...

Yeah, there were a lot of random cameos. And I will just leave it at that.

This entire effort was random. Because the plot is thin and clearly influenced by The Lion King. And Princess and the Frog. With nods to Black Panther, Cinderella (with Brandy), Star Wars, and The Princess Diaries. So I will just come out and say that this was a Disney movie with curse words, or one of those awkward SNL skits that lasts way too long so by the time the joke lands, you're just watching to see if it is funny.

So let me get to the women's empowerment message, which is an acknowledgement that Eddie Murphy has really grown up (somewhat though, because he still loves fart jokes.) The gratuitous sexism from the original film is toned down, somewhat. Although the plot centers on the discovery of a male heir to the throne of Zamunda, it never makes sense that he would or could ascend to the throne over his native-born sisters. Consistent from the original is the notion that women can think and choose for themselves; and if you missed that message, watch the movie again. The most poignant moment in this film comes when the late Queen Aoleon (the great Madge Sinclair) is recalled as the most sensible member of the Joffer royal family. Her voice of reason is certainly missed, but as this is a classic Disney film set up, her spirit hovers over the choices that are made, and we get another fairy tale ending. 

That Coming 2 America is so self-aware as to mock itself is genius, clearly a nod to Shrek, which was the series of unabashed anti-Disney animated films Murphy starred in during the early 2000s. That was very effective as a comedic device, as was the importation of several of the most memorable jokes and gags from the original. However, part of the overall joke from our first visit to Zamunda was the fact that almost no one had heard of it (which worked in a pre-Google world). But now that we have been there and to Wakanda, I think we need to devise better ways of showcasing Africa other than these highly stylized, fictional MET Gala utopias. And in my opinion, someone should have reconsidered making light of geo-political atrocities (warlords and kidnappings) because Boko Haram isn't funny. 

The Hub says I am just hyper-sensitive because most viewers are unaware of global affairs. I haven't thoroughly checked woke Black Twitter, but if he is right, then that's one of several metajokes that might catch on after the second or third viewing. There are others, including the perpetual Trading Places references, the product placement spoofs, and the fact that Murphy's evolution is due to his becoming a proud #GirlDad. Yet, despite giving the women more substance this time around, this is still Eddie Murphy at his Murphyest, just older and wiser.

So the moral of this story is not to wait 30 years to revisit happily ever after and expect things to be as funny as they were the first time. It will be an entirely new story, and while it will try to be as funny as possible, it has to stand on its own. And if you missed that message the first time, then watch it again. I'm sure you have more laundry.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Another HBCU #JustGive Message

It's been a minute...

This week, I donated to the University of Maryland, where I once worked, but never attended. I did so at the request of a relative and also in memory of my friend who earned her PhD there. As soon as I hit send, I came here to write through a few thoughts about that gift and my ongoing mission on HBCU alumni giving. Then I realized how long it had been since my last #HBCUJustGive soapbox speech, so here goes:

Today is a good day to give to an HBCU. I don't care which one and it doesn't matter how much. This isn't about shaming anyone who can't give that much, nor is it about making anyone feel guilty if they have never donated. But it is about appealing to you to step up on behalf of YOUR alma mater (or for the school where some person in your orbit attended, because if you know any middle-class Black people, someone most certainly attended an HBCU). And on the off chance there is no one you can think of who did, then today is a good day to support the United Negro College Fund and/or the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. This is my basic, no frills message: Every School, Every Alum, in Any Amount.

Since this a topic that I have written about ad nauseum, there really isn't much to add. Or so I thought until recently...

1. Who supports our institutions and why? This is a question that I've debated with various people on social media, and typically I come away from those exchanges wondering how any of our schools ever survived as long as they did. And then I remember--we barely survive, even with the periodic generosity of white philanthropists or the steady government-cheese support we get from our respective states. We get by, and that is applicable to all of the schools. So the first question every alum should ask is whether we are satisfied with that reality.

Consider the state-supported schools and how they fare in relation to what are regarded as the flagship institutions. As I mentioned, I gave to the University of Maryland at College Park as a favor to a relative, but perhaps I should have directed my meager coins to the Eastern Shore campus or to one of the other HBCUs in the system that historically receive less taxpayer support. Because College Park has a state-of-the-art sports arena with a Fortune 500 name attached; meanwhile, Morgan State gets support from the pay-as-you-go cell phone company...

Maybe that doesn't bother you because that cellular company is actually a subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company that has its name on two sports arenas in Texas. And that subsidiary has naming rights for the HBCU Celebration Bowl game, which is definitely a strong show of support seeing as how HBCUs never get to play in any of the other big college bowl championships. The essence of the struggle we face is that if our schools are dependent on the generosity of others, then we will get the watered down rail drinks while the alumni from the flagship schools get served from the top shelf.

You might be tempted to remind me that philanthropist Mackenzie Scott just blessed several schools with multi-million dollar donations. She and other new money corporate scions have responded to the Black Lives Matter protests with high profile gifts, for which we are eternally grateful. But so did Calvin E. Tyler and his family, but to much less publicized fanfare. Last year, one of my Morehouse brothers just dropped his own surprise blessing on his alma mater, but it didn't get the full court press that Robert F. Smith received months earlier.

Again, this isn't a complaint because we need every penny; however, those high profile gifts are as much about the donors as they are about the recipients. Mackenzie Scott didn't attend an HBCU, nor did Robert F. Smith so their generosity is regarded as selfless altrusim and their motives are never questioned. Nevermind that Scott made her money from co-founding a company that engages in unsafe labor practices or that Smith evaded paying his taxes for years. I may not know how the alumni donors who give big money to their HBCUs made their fortunes, but I do believe that their gifts are motivated by their genuine love for their institutions.

And the other thing I know is that alumni donors do a lot more for the schools in the long run. Not all of us are able to drop half a million or more on the table as a surprise gift, but we can offer internships and book scholarships and serve as mentors. A few of my friends shared some very enlightening stories about their encounters with the late Vernon Jordan, himself an HBCU alum. He made it a point to assist and connect folks, which in turn is the real testimony of his life--not that he played golf with Bill Clinton.

So it matters who gives and why. It matters that some corporations would rather run elaborate scams to demonstrate their support when they are just exploiting us for pennies on the dollar. Do the math. And then next time you're attending a game at the big sports arena with the fancy corporate amenities, remember that your school had to compete for a gift that equates to the cost of a luxury box rental. Barely a year of tuition.

2. All money isn't good money. When I think back to one of the reasons why this became an important personal crusade, it was after I learned that one school participated in the Inauguration Abomination of 2017 because they needed the funds. That some of our schools have had to resort to serious pole dancing to keep the lights on should shame all of us into doing more.

It should also shame us to be in positions of doing more for our institutions, but choosing not to. When I said something to this effect on social media in a group, that was all kinds of clapback. One person suggested that he hadn't felt a return on his investment. Another felt that her school had deficiencies during her matriculation that needed to improve before she donated. And another person told me that my arguments were akin to shaming because not everyone could afford to give. Then more than a few people mentioned their student debt as reasons why they don't give.

I confess not to have sufficiently snappy retorts to any of those excuses responses. I regard my donations to my alma mater strictly as charitable gifts, so all I ever get in return are address labels and more solicitations. My freshman year dorm still doesn't have air conditioning and apparently the food is still terrible, even with expanded options. I can't speak to anyone else's shame when one year, I received credit for having given $5...and let's not discuss my student loan indebtedness (but I have forgiven myself for assuming that I would earn enough to pay it back, so it is well with my soul). I can't tell anyone what they can afford or what they should do with their money and from the beginning my position has always been and will forever be to give what you can spare.

When I say that all money isn't good, that point is made by the way the last Regime resorted to blackmail by claiming his fervent support of HBCUs. Remember how he did more for Black people since Abraham Lincoln, by proposing increased federal funding? For what it is worth, taxpayer money is our money, so it isn't as if he opened his wallet to give us anything (and those fines he donated are a clever PR spin on the commitments he tried to skip out on via his charitable foundation). But let him tell it, we practically owe Massa T for our very freedom.

Someone recently suggested that our principled stances in rejecting or returning corporate/donor funds has been counter-productive, and maybe he is right. We can always use a lifeline of support, but there is a difference between support and control. I need only point to the controversy brewing with the University of Texas over their school song and the anonymous threats from alumni to withdraw their financial donations. Not for nothing, there is serious money at stake--the type of money that could truly be transformative at an HBCU. I'm sure it ain't nothing to sneeze at for the University of Texas either, but I have to question whether any school should be held captive by the money of racist sympathizers in the year 2021.

Because all of this caterwauling is over a song set to the tune of I've Been Working on the Railroad...

Imagine being so offended about having to consider the feelings of the Black student population, whose grandparents might have been in that first group of admitted students in 1956. This was after the state created a separate law school just to avoid integration ten years earlier (overruled by Sweatt v. Painter in 1950). And where the numbers of Black students have been technically capped since the Hopwood v. Texas ruling in 1996, thanks to a legislative compromise that guaranteed admission to the top ten percent of the state's high school graduates. The nerve of these football players to have opinions that differ from those of their benefactors. What did they go to college to do, learn?

As any alum of an HBCU can attest, our opinions only count until the check clears. But perhaps my point is being made through the inadvertent acknowledgment that we can't give on that level. Our schools are not held hostage by outdated perspectives of how things were better back in the day, and they only need to tolerate alumni input a few times a year. That attitude isn't ideal either, but if it were up to our seasoned alumni, curfews would still be a thing.

3. Just give. I recognize the many blessings that Spelman receives, and I realize that money could just have easily gone to save the whales or to plant a garden somewhere in honor of someone's cat.  I'm not here to challenge donor intentions or their legacies. I also don't want my school to become a laundromat, washing donor sins away. But since I have no influence on those outside of our community, then I focus my energy on encouraging those who share some aspects of a common experience to support our alma mater for future generations. 

Give because you had a great time in college. Give because you met your best friend(s) there and y'all are still tight after all of these years. Give because that is where you met your significant other and you hope that is where your babies and grandbabies will continue the legacy. Give because of that professor who introduced you to some great work that changed your life. Give because you want to honor the memory of a beloved fellow alum, sorority sister, or fraternity brother. Give because you like seeing your name listed in the annual report.

Give because your freshman year dorm still doesn't have air conditioning and the cafeteria food still sucks. Give because that same person in financial aid who lost your check is still there, working in the same musty office and still losing checks. Give so that the issues you had with your school won't be issues that persist for future students. Give because that student loan debt is owed to the government or to Sallie Mae or to Navient, not your institution. Give because your school is not a business, it is a charity, and your degree is not a piece of paper, it is evidence of the education you received.

Give to ease your guilty conscience whenever you read one of my long-winded tirades about alumni giving. Give because if you can spend a grand for Homecoming/Reunion weekend, an extra $20 won't break your bank. Give because that $20 that probably won't break your bank might help a current student with her account balance. Give because you want to bless the current students, not because you need someone to control.

Just give.