Be My Guest

A Kentucky Point of View of November 2nd – A Be My Guest Column by Sheila J. Williams

“We’ve come to take our government back.”
Senator-elect Rand Paul

I live in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, birthplace of bourbon and home of Rand Paul. It’s been a frustrating election, especially if you aren’t sporting a “Take back America!” bumper sticker on your SUV. As a descendant of people who lived here generations before the Star-Spangled Banner was composed, the slogan fills me with fury.

Last night, I was upset and paranoid. There are many campaign signs in my neighborhood supporting the candidate who opined that perhaps the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went too far. Is our country poised to lurch back to the good old days? The days of separate drinking fountains? The days when my mother could buy a dress at a store but wasn’t allowed to try it on, much less return it once she had? Should I move somewhere else like Guatemala? Antarctica?

Reactions aren’t always productive but they can often be useful. They allow us the space and time to absorb shock and recover. It’s our responses that make the difference. I gave myself an hour to rant and scream. Now, it’s time to respond.

I draw strength and inspiration from the resiliency of my ancestors as they fought against unjust laws and policies in times more dangerous than ours; when reading was a crime, when they were taxed without representation and fought for a country that refused to recognize their humanity. They were tenacious, never giving up regardless of how bad conditions were or how favorable they appeared to be. And they survived.

Now it’s my turn. I must commit myself to action in support of what I know to be right, tenaciously work towards justice for all and maintain vigilance in the face of those who seek to return to the “good old days”. If I want to look back at those days, I’ll read an historical novel. I choose to look forward.

(But there are a whole lot of folks in my neighborhood that I may not be speaking to anymore. Bless their hearts.)

Sheila J. Williams is the author of four published novels including Dancing on the Edge of the Roof. She teaches creative writing for UCLA Extension. Her current project is a memoir of her family history from the early 1700s to present day. For more information please go to

Be My Guest

A Moroccan Point of View of November 2nd – A Be My Guest Column by Ahmed M’Rabet

Shall I present to you my condolences, for the insanity of the results of these mid-term elections, as far as ‘democratic’ America is concerned and the people that have a vision a little beyond the tip of their nose?

Maybe, as the saying goes, “in any evil, there is something good”. We’ll see in two years time what these guys can do to straighten up the economy & create jobs. If no gridlock sets in the Congress.

Another very sad thing to notice: the fact that NO MORE African Americans are in the Senate! Senatorial candidates Kendrick Meek (Fla), Alvin Green (S.C.) & Mike Thurmond (Ga) all ‘beaten’ and will not be in the Senate! Some white supremacists are going to celebrate!

America is, more and more, offering an image in shambles of the “American Way” to Africa & the World. What a pity!

Ahmed M’Rabet has served as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Kénitra & Region in Morocco and also as Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry & Services of Morocco from1992 to 2002. He has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Rhode Island.

Be My Guest

A View of November 2nd – A Be My Guest Column by Sheena Brown

President Obama’s remarks Wednesday afternoon brought to mind my own experience with “Performance Review”. A six-month review for a highly demanding job with border-line unreasonable expectations was typically a swift and merciless accounting of my value add, much like that of our President’s performance at midterm.

I remember thinking that the air felt fresher and colors looked brighter as I walked back to my office, humbled, but thankful for a chance to do it better and bolder the next time around. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with the ability to learn a hard lesson once.

In these days following the ‘shellacking”, I’ve come to realize it serves little long-term purpose to simply empathize with the President as he endures a long-winded, merciless reckoning of his own. I practice the adage of “being the change you want to see….”

I’ve committed my career to the non-profit sector and I’ve become quite good at moving hundreds of thousands of dollars from ‘the haves’ to the ‘have nots’ through strategic philanthropy. Yet, as a part of the collective progressive cause, it hasn’t yielded enough to be counted toward the pursuit of that elusive vision for social change.

Not since the woeful election of George W in 2000 have I awakened the morning after licking my gums to ensure all my teeth were still intact. This Wednesday came with a persistent hum of anxiety, loss and disappointment. In the aftermath of Obama’s public whipping, Post Traumatic Stress of Gore v Bush is creeping near. I’m reminded of what happens when we lack a collective will to simply stand up, be noticed and vote, vote, vote.

If we wait until 2012 to respond to the social and moral consequences of Republican Rule having its way with our vision for change, then expect that dread of waking up the first Wednesday in November 2000 and 2010 to revisit. Lessons unlearned.

Sheena Brown is a social entrepreneur who provides capacity building consultation to non-profit organizations. Sheena is sought after for her success with raising money, building effective boards of directors, and providing organizational development coaching to leaders of community-based organizations. Her clients are primarily led by and benefit communities of color, young people, and women.