"A Sustainable Environment without Sustainable People?" A Letter to Loyola University

Dear Loyola University Chicago,

I am writing you this letter because I left the University Senate meeting today feeling a bit bewildered by the conversations that took place. Particularly, I feel that every time we have a discussion on diversity in this body, the atmosphere becomes divisive. There is generally a sense in the air from certain members that we already do enough in this regard, and any suggestion to further diversity initiatives on campus becomes a hot issue of debate. This happened last year when we were discussing the need for a chief diversity officer and this year now in our discussion of a required course on diversity for undergraduate students.

Yet, my confusion really came to a head when the discussion on environmental sustainability began with little to no arguments against it. There was a sense of, “Absolutely, climate control is an important issue that all of our students, faculty, administrators, and staff should be aware of in order to continue our Jesuit mission.” Why is that? Why is it that we can discuss a sustainable planet with such calmness, and yet become so contentious when we’re discussing sustainable institutional practices for such a key issue as diversity?

Why do we not question a campus-wide discussion on climate control, but we have consistent rebuttals on diversity? Why does environmental sustainability seem to garner such support and enthusiasm from this body, but every diversity conversation seems bleak and heavy?

Today our presenter highlighted climate control as “necessary” for our students to go out and change the world. Why do we not have this same emphasis on matters of diversity and inclusion?

I thought perhaps these feelings were limited to the University Senate, until it was mentioned that all students are required to take a science course on environmental sustainability…and yet, at the mention of doing a required course on diversity, so many of the opinions expressed today suggested that it is unnecessary because diversity is talked about in a lot of the core courses anyway. This is where I was especially perplexed. Why is this? What message are we sending to our students and the world about what’s important to us? We can say that we are progressive because we are participating in a popular conversation that’s happening in the world about climate control. Yet, there’s little to no discussion happening campus-wide about minority teens being shot in the streets around the country, the hanging of a black man in Mississippi in 2015, the attack on Islam in this country, the video of young white Greeks proudly singing about n*ggers not being permitted into their fraternity, the debates across the country on same-sex marriage, the conversation that is still happening about wage inequality and gender discrimination…how can we sit back, or rest on our Jesuit name, without making a conscious effort, from the top down, from administrators to students, to say, “Hey, issues of diversity are important and necessary for us to discuss in order for our graduates to really go forth and set the world on fire?”

To this point, I feel that as a university, diversity is not clearly defined or clearly emphasized. In our public comments on climate control, one student mentioned with urgency that, “We need to be carbon neutral by a date. We want a firm commitment from this body on this issue.” I thought to myself, man, these students are speaking with such passion on this issue. And yet, I rarely hear such urgency, such direct resolve about issues of diversity here on campus. I believe the answer is more than just the need for a change in curriculum, but in the way we talk about diversity as an institution. For example, why does environmental awareness seem to permeate our university mindset (greener buildings, recycling, an office of sustainability, etc. which, in my opinion, are such visual things), but we leave diversity to linger on the outskirts, hoping that through a few public lectures or a belief that within our core curriculum, somewhere within any given course, diversity will be discussed in passing? This goes for diversity within staff and faculty as well. Diversity seems to be limited to an employee handbook or by the presence of a single minority faculty member within any given department.

I know that there is no direct way of answering these questions, but I did not want to let the moment pass by without voicing my frustrations about what I call “the diversity issue” that we have here on campus. Also, as a disclaimer, I am absolutely for the initiatives we are taking as an institution to create a more sustainable environment. I just hope that along with it, we are empowering sustainable people as well.

Thank you for your time and I hope you have a great weekend.


"It Ain't Nobody's Business!" Or...is it?

I'm simultaneously excited and anxious about this post, but it's been on my heart for a while now. I've been having lots of conversations lately around the subject of love and relationships. A lot of folks are curious about my current relationship and how it came about.

In our world today, there is this sense of "it ain't nobody's business" when it comes down to love, sex, and relationships. The common slogan of, "Imma do me" seems to permeate our thought process in this regard. I could look at my relationship in that way if I wanted to. I could determine that it's no one's business how this happened. This is my love life, my story, my privacy. Nobody else's.

But, my heart says that this is not so. While it certainly is true that this is my life and my story, I realize that my life is on display. All of our lives are. What we do and how we live can effect change all around us. It's how we choose to handle our display that becomes key. For me, I recognize that I share my life each and every day when I mentor people, when I sing up on stage, when I speak the words God has placed on my heart. I share my life when I write about it here on my blog, which a public domain. I've shared my life from the first moment I got on a stage back in Arkansas, from every performance to every conversation...from every expectation as a "preacher's daughter" to every time I fell short of that expectation, my life has been on display. I have always had this sense that, "The world is watching..."

Now, with that in mind, let me give a little disclaimer. Again, this is my story. I'm not sharing this because I feel like I have to. I'm sharing it because I want to. Especially since my divorce came as a surprise to most people, and then it seemed like I was suddenly in a new relationship. I'm sharing it because I feel that as a Christian woman, there are questions about that. And those questions have actually been articulated to me by various people who want to know the who, what, where, why. All of your questions may not be answered here, and quite frankly, I don't care about that. I just want to share the truth. My truth. So, here's my favorite love story, in simple terms...


DeMico and I met back in August 2013 at school. We were both in very committed relationships at the time. I was married, he had been in a relationship for a few years. We immediately hit it off and became bro & sis. There was no attraction, no hidden agenda. I introduced him to my ex husband, he introduced me to his lady. DeMico joined the church I attended and eventually, he and I both were in positions of leadership in worship. We became best friends.

I left my ex-husband in November 2013 (more about that here and here, if you're interested) and began my journey of singlehood. At the end of the day, all you need to know is that my divorce is 100% biblically sanctioned. But, I will admit, it was a suddenly devastating experience, to go from sharing your life with someone on a daily basis to being alone. Thankfully, it turned into the best thing that's ever happened to me. And that's all I'll say about that.

DeMico is an incredibly generous, hopeful man. In this time of my life, he was constantly praying for my marriage and encouraging me to get back with my ex. It wasn't until he knew the whole ugly truth that he realized my story wouldn't be going in that direction. And after he understood for sure that I was headed for divorce, he prayed with me for strength and guidance. He had my back through a lot of the darkness.

Around this same time, in fact, DeMico started to go through a journey of his own. His past relationship is his story to share, not mine, so I won't say much about it here. All I will say is that his relationship had its own variation of pain. And when that relationship ended, I was there for him just as he had been for me. We helped each other through the dark times.

Now, here's where it gets fun though. Once we both realized the path we were on, we tried to find each other's perfect match lol. Yaaalllll, I tried to hook DeMico up with women from church and from school. I would see a cute girl that I thought would make a perfect match for him and encourage him to go talk to her. Then, he would see a guy checking me out and say, "Pam, I think that guy would be cool for you. What do you think?" Ha!! I'll be honest and say that I assumed I would either be single for the rest of my life OR I would finally meet the perfect man around the time I turned 50 and we would marry and spend our golden years together.

So, we went on like this for a while. Until one bright, beautiful Sunday morning in August 2014. DeMico was walking up on stage during altar call, preparing to play his guitar. He was communicating with the other musicians, as he always does as a leader. I was watching him, as I always do, since it's part of my job as a worship leader to observe everything in worship. But this Sunday was different somehow...this Sunday, I looked at DeMico and it suddenly hit me. He is FINE. Like, FINE, FINE. And the sudden revelation shocked me! Lol. How could this be? This is my best friend. We know so much about each other. We spend time together every day either at school or church. How could I have overlooked this? Around this same time, he started to have a similar revelation about me. (Apparently, he had this revelation about me a few months prior, but again, that's his story to share lol).

Then I spent all of September denying that I had this revelation lol. I was on my singlehood journey, after all. I wanted to be healed from my previous relationship, not get in another one! Then one day, DeMico and I were having lunch after church and he looked at me and said, "Okay, stop...can we just admit that we like each other? I like you..." And I don't think I've ever blushed so hard in my life...

I'm pretty sure I knew then that I was in love with him, but we both needed to make sure we were ready for anything more than friendship. I didn't want to carry baggage into a new relationship. I mean, I know we all carry some baggage, but I didn't want to show up to this thing with a whole truck-load, you feel me? So, we both took some time to pray and create boundaries for ourselves as friends and potential lovers.

When he asked me to be his girlfriend, I was nervous about committing to something new. But after a year of prayer, fasting, and learning to love myself, I was willing to take a chance.

And the rest, as they say, was history.


There you have it, folks! That's how this happened. I know it's a lot, but it's worth sharing. Here's a recap:  Yes, he and I did this the "right" way (which is BS to have to mention, but lots of Christian folks love being up in your business). No, we did not have the intention of dating when we were friends. Yes, we are currently in love and yes, the future looks bright. Yes, I did share this story to give an example of hope. One year of singlehood, and a lifelong lesson in God-love, God-grace, God-purpose, and God-strength. I pray that my story inspires you to dream, to take the time to believe and hope in love again. After all, every love story, every true love story is beautiful, but ours...ours is most definitely my favorite ❤

Movie Review: FOCUS

So, ya know how movies are a thing that I love and adore? Yeah, well I've been slacking on my movie posts! If you've been following me for a while, you probably know why I haven't had time for many movies. But, I'm getting back in the swing of things. And I figured what better way to jump back in than with a movie review?

My Honey Dip and I have a designated date night each week (attn lovers: GET YO LIFE and try to ensure that you don't forsake that quality time). This week, we decided to see Focus. If you don't know what it's about, here's the preview:

Here's the plot storyline from Internet Movie Database: "Nicky Spurgeon is an extremely accomplished con man who takes an amateur con artist, Jess, under his wing. Nicky and Jess become romantically involved, and with Nicky's profession of being a liar and a cheater for a living, he realizes that deception and love are things that don't go together. They split, only to see each other three years later... And things get messy."

Things get messy, indeed!

In an attempt to not give away spoilers, I'm just gonna highlight some things I enjoyed about Focus:

1) Will Smith.

2) The cast was incredibly diverse! This isn't a "black" or "white" or "Latin" or "Asian" film. Instead, the main cast ran the color spectrum and I appreciated that.

3) The movie was very tastefully done. From the clothing to the music, I felt like they really drew me in. I really appreciated the music choices because they put me in the mind of James Bond.

4) It was light and fun. And not like "Tower Heist" light and fun, but more like "Ocean's Eleven" light and fun. Nothing too over the top, but solid acting and an enjoyable plot with twists and surprises.

5) I loved the chemistry between Will Smith and Margot Robbie. She was just perfect for this role, showing raw emotion and vulnerability. And Will was the perfect balance for her, with his unpredictable attitude and approach to his character. It made for a really enjoyable movie relationship.

Now, here are some recommendations I have for you if you plan to see this film:

1) "Comparison is the thief of joy." Remember that. I know I mentioned Tower Heist and Ocean's Eleve, but this film really isn't like those. And if you go in expecting something like these films, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Take the film for what it is: an enjoyable con-man movie.

2) Go with someone who likes to laugh. I swear yall, bae and I were cracking up laughing the whole time. But the rest of the theater was silent. It was like the other 10 people (we went for a matinee showing lol) were watching a different film from us. Why would you watch a movie like this if you don't want to have fun?

3) Have a drink (if you're over 21!) before or during the film. It makes it even more fun! Lol.

Overall rating: 7.5/10. Very enjoyable film. I had a lot of fun! Let me know if you plan to see it or what you're hoping to watch soon.

(PS - Click on the "movies" label below if you wanna see more movie posts from me! *cyber high five*)

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