Category: Lessons

Stacey Abrams warns voter suppression threatens our democracy.

by Carjamin Scott on March 25, 2019, at 10:05 p.m. CST

I had the pleasure of attending a lecture featuring politician, author, and attorney Stacey Abrams. Abrams is best known for a complicated loss to the Governor’s race in Georgia where incumbent, Brian Kemp was accused of manipulating the votes since he served as Secretary of State during the race with Abrams. The Secretary of State position gave him oversight of the election of which he was a candidate.

Abrams, began the lecture saying, “I am here because I am not the Governor of Georgia.” Unlike most candidates, Abrams was contracted to write a book about the campaign while campaigning. Her book, ‘Lead from the Outside’ is a memoir on how to get power, access to resources, and overcome failure.

Abrams said, “People like us, (outsiders) are afraid of opportunity because we don’t want to mess it up. When we mess up, we fear that there is no recovery because we are so limited in many spaces. Oftentimes we are unwillingly representing an entire culture and community which brings upon unwanted pressure.”

When Abrams told her family and friends that she wanted to run for the Governor seat she faced much criticism. “I can’t invest in you because I don’t believe in you enough,” some alluded. “You’re qualified Stacey, but do you realize that you are a woman and you are black?” others said to her.

Abrams still ran and although her loss was controversial, she said, “My moment of darkness wasn’t for me. My book, ‘Lead from the Outside’ is important because that’s where a lot of folks are.”

As mentioned during the lecture and reported by the New York Times, Abrams received 25% of votes from whites and 38% of votes from republicans. Additionally, she was able to triple Latino voter turnout and increase youth and black voter turnout. She got more votes than any other democrat seeking the Governor position. “On Election Day, we knew we had done something unprecedented. Then, as the final counts were tallied scenario Z happened. There was a concern about the election; so, I had the every vote should count speech.”

At that moment, before the final results were tallied, Abrams believed that it was her responsibility to rally voters, especially those who felt the system failed them and the republican voters who believed in her enough to vote against their own party.

Then, Brian Kemp was announced as governor. She admitted that she was angry and sometimes still is. “Revenge is cathartic, I had to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I had to work towards changing the infrastructure that allowed this to happen.” Abrams continued. “You fix problems, you don’t wallow in them.”

Now, Abrams is working to change the voting system and has launched Fair Fight Action. Her organization works to end the systematic repression of voter access and to bring awareness to the public on necessary election reform.

Subscribe to the blog to join our next book club meeting and discussion of Lead from the Outside.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

Nobody’s Relationship Should Be Your Relationship Goals

by Carjamin Scott on March 6, 2019, at 4:05 a.m. CST

It’s 4:00 am and I’m having trouble sleeping. I look to my left and my husband is knocked out cold, I hear the sound of the heater and the rattle of the wind. I’m thinking about next week, our singles mixer, and trying to picture the event in my mind.

What will people expect? Since I was able to feature a ton of women, will that attract some men to come out? What kind of music will they play that night?

I hope that the singles mix and mingle is worth it. If nothing else, I hope that new networks and friendships begin. I hope the attendees recognize that this is their time to meet new people while celebrating their singleness.

I’m thinking about all of the comments I’ve received from singles saying, “Y’all are goals,” “I can’t wait to get married,” or “I’m tired of being single.” I’m thinking that I need to make sure they know the truth.

Marriage is definitely worthwhile and I’m grateful for mine. However, the truth is marriage isn’t glamorous. It is not a prize or an accomplishment. It’s literally a commitment to love someone in spite of differences, flaws, and broken promises. It is accepting someone as they are even when they don’t deserve it.

The best advice I can give a person wishing to no longer be single is to love yourself and recognize your value. Because marriage is work, and everyone’s relationship is different.

That’s what being single is all about, right? It is the best practice for marriage. It is being committed to yourself, learning from mistakes, forgiving yourself, healing, and growth. I mean, if you are unable to love yourself fully, how can you honestly love someone else, right? Perhaps, but that’s easier said than done.

If you get nothing else from this 4:00 am rant, please understand that your future partner isn’t going to rescue you from yourself. The same struggles, fears, and anxieties you had before you got married will resurface.

The only difference is you have someone witnessing it all. Hopefully that person is encouraging you, helping you get through your issues, and instructing you to get expert assistance when needed.

So when people say, “couple goals” or “relationship goals,” I’m going to continue to respond “nobody’s relationship should be your relationship goals.” It’s not a jab at my marriage because I think I have a great one; but, it’s an honest response to a compliment that no one deserves.

Until then, love yourself and love one another. I hope to see you at Minerva next week.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

Angie Thomas, author of ‘The Hate U Give’ says we can all be like Starr.

by Carjamin Scott on February, 15, 2019, at 8:05 p.m. CST

I learned about The Hate U Give novel from a dear co-worker who is someone that I have been very honest with about my feelings as one of the few women of color in my office.

Before I came to Nashville, which was nearly four years ago, I worked in Memphis at a career college. To provide context, I went from working at a trade school in a strip mall to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country.

Let me be clear, I’m not ‘throwing shade’ at that institution. I worked my rear off to make a difference in the lives of our students and to protect the team that I managed. However, you can only imagine how difficult it was to prove myself at my new job.

I had to figure out how to fit in with colleagues who did not look or sound like me, who did not live in the community I live in, and who did not have the same kind of education I did. I had to understand the needs of students who had a very different upbringing than the trade school students that I loved and mentored.

It was tough to be authentic in a space where I felt that being authentic was a handicap. It took some time to understand why I was here and how I could truly make a difference. I thought that I had to look, sound, and live like my coworkers to be valued. And, as the child of parents who met in a GED class, whose mom and grandmother attended college in strip malls, I couldn’t figure out how I could be a resource to the privileged students at my new job or my very polished colleagues.

However, this was four years ago and now, I do not feel like that anymore. Times have changed and I have created opportunities to go beyond the surface to learn that I actually have a lot in common with my co-workers. It feels good to admit that I have created relationships with our students and added value to our team.

I also learned that my colleagues are intrigued by my willingness to share how I feel about issues. Most of them even encourage me to give my opinion on the things that matter to me. It’s people like my co-worker, or I should say, friend, who remind me that I deserve to be here and I am valuable.

When I read The Hate U Give, I immediately fell in love with Starr. Starr is a teenage girl who must navigate between two worlds. She witnessed Khalil, her childhood friend, get killed by a police officer. The crime garners different responses from her Williamson Prep classmates and the Garden Heights community.

Starr is forced to merge her two worlds together and express how the murder impacts her life. And, although she didn’t sign up for it, she becomes a spokesperson for her community. So when I learned that Angie Thomas, best-selling author of The Hate U Give was delivering a keynote lecture at my job, I had to attend.

Friends, it was so raw and unapologetic! There were times that I felt like she was talking directly to me. I snapped my fingers, clapped, and laughed. Her lecture resonated with me and I had a great time. She spoke about everything from seeing color, to black lives matter, and why we should recognize that we have power.

Thomas mentioned, “We should use our artistry to become activists. We should look at what’s going on in the world and use our power to create change. Empathy is our cure to equity.”

Thomas’s artistry is her writing ability. The Hate U Give has remained on the New York Times young adult best seller list for over 50 weeks, has been translated into a number of languages for world-wide distribution, and was made into a motion feature film.

On seeing color, Thomas addressed the crowd saying, “I need you to see color. I need you to understand that some people do not value us simply because of the color of our skin.” Thomas continued. “As a black woman in America, I feel that my existence is political, if I say my life matters, then I’m making a political statement. But politics are often personal and there is power in making it personal.”

Whether we like it or not, it’s true. The death of Khalil was personal and Starr was forced to explain that Khalil’s life mattered. She didn’t want it to be political but it became political. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

This is the theme that motivated her to write The Hate U Give. She wanted readers to fall in love with the characters so that we could have the courage to become like Starr.

However, the book is deemed controversial by some. The American Library Association, considered it ‘pervasively vulgar’ because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language. Some police districts have publicly condemned the book and some school districts have banned the book completely.

This has not stopped Thomas, who is currently on a book tour for her latest book, On the Come Up. She addressed the crowd, “Ask yourself, do I know what it’s like to be someone who is not from this campus?” Thomas continued. “If you change the world around you then you will find yourself changing the world,” and “I need you to care enough to make change.”

She ended the keynote with a call to action, “Everyone has the power to do even greater, you must be active. Be Starrs in the world.”

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.