Run Your Race Baby Boy


Interested in more inspiring and empowering stories about parenting and fatherhood? Check out these articles:

Happy Birthday Baby Boy: Thoughts On Your Future
Thoughts on America, on this day
“Is My Child Next?” – How raising black kids is affecting our mental health

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Growing Up Alone – How To Raise Independent and Responsible Children

At the Corner of 3rd and Douglas

Intersection of Life photo by Frantzou Fleurine on Unsplash
Photo by Frantzou Fleurine on Unsplash

I live in the Edgewood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. across the street from a school. When my wife and I bought our house, it was a public school serving a low to moderate-income population that was 95 percent African American, reflecting the neighborhood demographics.

Each morning when I headed to work I’d find a trail of discarded Little Hug juice bottles, honey bun wrappers and empty potato chip bags leading to the school. Weeds sprouted through the cracks in the asphalt on the school grounds and the play structure was tattered and rusty. The schoolyard looked more like a laboratory for tetanus rather than a playground for children. Inside, portable walls, not classrooms, separated the kids who were group two grades at a time (1st & 2nd, 3rd & 4th). When I visited the school to inquire about volunteering one morning, I heard several teachers instructing their students at the same time, and a disruption in one classroom affected the others.

The school closed a few years after we moved in and briefly became a hangout for older teens and young adults who smoked weed, drank and played dice.

Eventually, gentrification took over, the school was reopened as a charter school and the building was overhauled.  The playground was upgraded. Sunflowers and a community garden replaced the weeds. Woodchips covered the fissured asphalt. A section of the sidewalk was replaced and white children soon made up about 40 percent of the new student body—although the neighborhood demographics barely changed. Former First Lady and President Obama even came to christen the new facility. Even the litter got an upgrade, with Honest Juice boxes and string-cheese wrappers in the gutter instead of the cheap, corner-store junk-food trash.

Parking is a little harder to find, hey, that’s life in the big city.

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A Perfect Fall Day, Father and Sons

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My Son Leads The Way

Pieces Of Me: A (Selected) Autobiography of John Jioni Palmer

Photo by Carson Arias on Unsplash

I was five or six and recall being in a laundromat, but mom believes it was at a grocery store. The alleged transgression is forgotten by us both, but each remembers her towering over me index finger wagging demanding, “Who do you think you are?” I replied, “John Jioni Palmer.”

Four decades later I am still that boy, but also much more. I am a son, husband, father and eldest grandchild; storyteller, chef, leader and coach—to name a few. Each day I breathe, I endeavor to be my best at who I am, while also nurturing the desire to explore and develop new ways of being and doing.

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You Are Stronger Than You Think

You Are Stronger Than You Think Photo by Rochelle Nicole on Unsplash

In a time of increased racial conflict, devastating hurricanes and floods, we see the power and furry of nature and the emergence of heroes that save the day and our faith in humanity. I think Mariah Carey coined it best with her 1993 Grammy award winning song “Hero.” The lyrics from this song remind us that we are stronger than we think: “And you cast your fears aside, and you know you can survive. So, when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong. And you’ll finally see the truth that  a hero lies in you.”

Remember those words when you are challenged with conflict and adversity in this fast-paced technology driven society. Individuals have the power to make a  difference in the world by leading by example. Channel your inner strength to find where your power lies.

Taking control and ownership over things you have authority of is empowering. For instance, if you wish you had more money but are stuck in a job with no advancement, decide how you spend your finances. Decide what you can cut from your budget to save, while you look at other possible solutions. It could mean taking your lunch, which is typically better for you, and will save you money. When we think of transformation and empowerment we think BIG but in the words of an old Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take control and find strength in managing your thoughts, ideas and plans, one step, one day at a time.

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May You Have the Opportunity to Fail

Photo by Josh Marshall Courtesy of Unsplash

Launching Thinking Good, nearly a year and a half ago, has been an exhilarating and at times frustrating rollercoaster ride. I’ve experienced the incumbent fast starts, abrupt stops and twists and turns of entrepreneurship. I’ve grappled with the challenges of what I dub #SmlBizLyf: balancing work and family (especially difficult when you work where you live); pushing back on “honey-dos” imposed on my flexible schedule; and the social isolation of not having a work buddy to chat with over a much-needed coffee break.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. Not everything has turned out as I would like, but fortunately most of my missteps have been instructive and none fatal.

On the Suite Talk podcast, I often ask guests what’s one lesson they’re glad to have learned early in life. The responses are drawn equally from positive and negative experiences and result in strengthened fortitude, resilience, discernment, patience, a better understanding of limitations or willingness to seek advice. For me, I’m glad to have learned the importance—reoccurrence—of failure.

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A Leadership Mantra For Modern Times: “I Failed!”

“The trick is to get back on the horse (or motorcycle) and try again. And again, and again.” Photo by Abigail KeenanCourtesy of Unsplash

Somewhere around third or fourth session of the beginner’s improv class I teach at The Unified Scene Theater, a brick-and-mortar improv space located in the Bloomingdale Neighborhood of Washington, DC, I make the entire class stand up, raise their hands, and yell, as loud as they can “I FAILED! I FAILED AT IMPROV! I FAILED AT MAKING CRAP UP! HOORAY!”

Because, I tell them, they will. Failure is built into this medium. Not everything is perfect the first time out. Even seasoned veterans have bad shows. The now syndicated show “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” airs for 22 minutes. But how long did it take to record the shows for the producer and directors to cherry-pick those segments? Hours. Why? Because not everything works. People who have shared the stage for decades sometimes have miscues, moments that don’t always result in brilliance and magic. It’s the nature of the beast. The trick is to get back on the horse and try again. And again, and again.

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Don’t Rush the Process – Hamilton Grant on Learning from Your Mistakes, Honoring Your Ancestors and Killing Evil with Kindness

Hamilton Grant, Vice President of the Hate Won’t Win Movement – Photo Courtesy of Hamilton Grant

In this episode, we speak with Hamilton Grant, a talented entrepreneur, civic leader and activist hailing from Columbia, South Carolina. He is also the co-host of Columbia Career Connect, a professional development and networking conference geared toward college students and young professionals. The event, in its second year, will take place on Saturday, April 8th, and yours truly will be a speaking about developing your personal brand. Click here to learn more about the conference.

Additionally, Hamilton is a principal in Grant Business Strategies, a financial and strategic advisory firm for non-profits, small business and middle market companies. He is also the Vice President of the “Hate Won’t Win Movement,” which grew out of the aftermath of the racially motived massacre that took place at “Mother” Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17th, 2015. This organization is committed to building a more culturally cohesive society that appreciates and celebrates differences instead of allowing them to divide us.

We’ll hear more from Hamilton, but for now, lean-in, lean back and enjoy!

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Dr. Jay Speights on Learning to Listen to Wisdom

How parents, grandparents and elders can be better teachers and leaders. Photo by London Scout – Courtesy of Unsplash

Here is an excerpt from our forthcoming Suite Talk podcast with Dr. Jay Speights. In this segment, we talk about why is it important to listen to the wisdom of our parents, grandparents and other elders, but also how they (and we) can be better teachers and leaders.

In the full-interview (look for it soon) we take a dive deeper in our earlier conversation on being the conductor of your own symphony. We’ll hear more from Dr. Speights on a range of topics, but for now lean in, lean back and enjoy!

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