August 29, 2014


Welcome to Charm Offensive! 

Some of you may recall the blog I started when I moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles as a wide-eyed cub reporter more than a decade ago. (Time flies when you're racking up the bylines!) Since then, a lot of you say you miss the humor and edge that rarely makes it into my journalism. So I'm starting this newsletter as an outlet for my personality and a window into what I've been up to and and into lately. 

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I spent nearly two weeks on the ground in Ferguson, Mo., covering the Michael Brown shooting and unrest in the city. I'm still trying to process everything I saw, heard and experienced when I was reporting, and I know that there are many more stories to write on this issue and community. 

Among the highlights from my time there: My first-hand account of one of the several nights of clashes between police and protesters that ended in tear gas, flash bombs, and smoke grenades; a report on a meeting that exposed the huge difference between how Ferguson's black and white citizens see the way forward; my take on Michael Brown's funeral as an affirmation of black life; and what Ferguson's black citizens need to do to increase their political clout.


I'm still catching up on my reading, but being in Ferguson made me want to go back and re-read the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s seminal work, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? King raises many points that remain relevant today, not just in Ferguson, but across the country. Just one excerpt that grabbed me:

The hard truth is that neither Negro nor white has yet done enough to expect the dawn of a new day. While much has been done, it has been accomplished by too few and on a scale too limited for the breadth of the goal. Freedom is not won by a passive acceptance of suffering. Freedom is won by a struggle against suffering. By this measure, Negroes have not yet paid the full price for freedom. And whites have not yet faced the full cost of justice.

The brunt of the Negro's past battles was borne by a very small striking force. Though millions of Negroes were ardent and passionate supporters, only a modest number were actively engaged, and these were relatively too few for a broad was against racism, poverty and discrimination. Negroes fought and won, but our engagements were skirmishes, not climactic battles.

No great victories are won in a war for the transformation of a whole people without total participation. Less than this will not create a new society; it will only evoke more sophisticated token amelioration.
Also, my dear friend, Jelani, sent me a copy of Joan Didion's We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, which I very much appreciate and will start reading over the holiday weekend.

And P.S. 

I'm in love with stationery and all things written, but for years, I've been too intimidated to learn modern calligraphy! Earlier this month, I spent a lovely afternoon in Middleburg, Va., where I took a class taught by the very patient and extremely talented Michelle Hatty Fritz of Meant to Be Calligraphy based in Alexandria.

Her studio name is very fitting: Unbeknownst to me before I signed up for this class, I learned that Michelle is a recovering journalist who also held a lifelong passion for lettering. Within a few hours, she helped me to face my fears and demystify this art.  Lesson learned: Live the life you imagine! 

My penmanship is still a work in progress, but as I suspected I would be, I'm very glad I did this. I love writing and this has already become a soothing release for me. Check out one of my practice sheets:

(Yes, that is a Drake lyric. More exciting than writing "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Amirite?)