Pizza, Cars, and Confederate Flags

Tickets and passes from the Bank of America 500 NASCAR race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 2017.
Bank of America 500 tickets and passes from 2017.

Are you are wondering how pizza, cars, and confederate flags go together? Read how these three thing aligned within my world one day in 2017.

A Finalist

On Thursday, October 5, 2017, I got a voicemail that I could not believe! The follow-up email stated:

You entered into our contest to win an all-new Toyota Camry last month and you have been chosen as a finalist!
You are one of three finalists who have the opportunity to win the car. The final part of the contest will happen this Sunday, 10/8, at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the Bank of America race.

Digital Strategy for Papa John’s of the Carolinas

Can you imagine? I did enter the contest. I used promotional code PAPAWHEELS when I ordered a $9.99 Papa John’s pizza. That’s it! I had some doubts about the whole thing, but I was assured that someone would leave a winner. With a 1 out of 3 chance of winning, I could not resist confirming my intentions to make the two hour drive. My family was invited, and win or lose, it was a new experience for everyone.

Pre-race Show Excitement

We were up and out early Sunday morning in order to make it to the track by 9:45am. Our VIP treatment started with a golf cart meeting us in the parking lot and driving us to the infield. The Pre-race show was already going strong. Fans were everywhere! Giveaways, celebrity NASCAR guests, all going on as the Papa John’s team prepared the three finalist for the contest.

The time came for our part of the show. The hosts moved from the main stage to the stage featuring a 2018 Toyota Camry and started introducing the contest and the finalists. They called me Margaret Brown. My name is not Margaret Brown. I immediately wondered if that “slip up” was a reference to my Brown skin, but then my thoughts were right back to winning my car – I was claiming it!

The contest was simple. A trunk full of single pizza boxes with a few of them colored gold. The finalists takes turn finding a gold one until they find one with a code. The code in the box matches a code on a key. If your key starts the car, you win. And guess who won!

The 2018 Toyota Camry SE in Galactic Aqua won from Papa John’s of the Carolinas at the Bank of America 500

Pizza, Cars, and Confederate Flags

We had a great time at our first NASCAR events! After the rock climbing wall, bouncing obstacle course, and some lunch, we headed to the grandstand to watch some of the race. Like a bunch of amateurs, we sat in the first row as if they were the most sought after seats. But when those cars came around, we realized that they were NOT popular seats for a real good reason. I did learn something priceless though. My youngest son, who was diagnosed with Autism months earlier, seemed to be soothed by the noise or vibrations.

It was such a fun outing and an amazing experience. Although, all the confederate flags in the infield were very distracting to me.

Photos displaying confederate flags at the Bank of America 500
Confederate flags at NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Had I paid attention to NASCAR, and its history, these flags would have not caught me of guard. However, seeing the flags did trigger a subconscious knowledge of such relationship.

The confederate flag once was as much a part of the NASCAR landscape as the green, yellow and checkered.

Confederate emblems decorated race souvenir programs, and a man dressed as a rebel soldier was a regular in victory lane celebrations at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

NASCAR fans: Confederate flag still important symbol
USA TODAY

Remove the “Offensive Symbol”?

Formal NASCAR chairman, Brian France, eventually called for, but did not require, the removal of the “offensive symbol” in 2015. Some tracks even offering to exchange the controversial flag with an American flag. France, grandson of NASCAR co-founder Bill France Sr., later went on to endorse Trump in 2016, proclaiming:

If the people that like and watch NASCAR vote for Donald Trump, they can cancel the election right now. Nobody else can win. Nobody.

NASCAR fans: Confederate flag still important symbol
USA TODAY

He also went on to plead guilty for DUI after an 2018 DUI and possession of Oxycodone (a controlled substance) arrest. Jim France, uncle to Brian France and son of Bill France Sr., is the new NASCAR Chairman and CEO. Will ideas about the confederate flag, and its role within NASCAR, change under his leadership? I don’t know, but I do know that Trump is the Grand Marshall of this week’s Dayton 500.

A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

There you have it! This is how pizza, cars and confederate flags have intersected in my life. Being called Margaret Brown in this environment was a bit frustrating. However, I used the car that I won to help start Not Mad. Motivated.!

Seeing those flags caused all sort of feelings, but outside of my own family’s enjoyment, I saw something else that made me extremely happy! Another Black family! What made this family special is not that they were Black; it is that they were being themselves.

It was before the race and a NASCAR driver was being driven through the crowd. The dad urged the son, who was dressed down in NASCAR appeal, to get an autograph. With the son’s hesitation, the dad grabbed the son’s hat, ran aside the golf cart next to the NASCAR driver, and got the autograph that he knew his son desired. The son displayed an undeniable reaction of a true fan!

Don’t get me wrong, I did not experience any hatred from any person that I interacted with that day. Everyone was actually very pleasant and welcoming. It was just those flags and beliefs that they symbolize to me and to many.

We have ‘symbols’ that can trigger the worst of our feelings and behaviors, but we win when we find the motivation to thrive beyond those negative feelings. We would love your help in spreading the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset! Let’s turn failures into fuel, obstacles into opportunities, and mistreatment into movements! Shop Not Mad. Motivated.

Reparations Plus Interest: A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

February 2020 - Reparations Plus Interest

I starting working on my credit when I was in college. I was approved for a loan to purchase a house and I thought that my work paid off. When I bought my house 13 years ago, my excitement was sky high. That was before I realized how much interest I was expected to pay. That realization definitely diminished the moment some.

I still live in the house that I “bought” in 2007. After a few years of financial instability (mostly due to a toxic relationship), I pretty much owe the same amount on my home loan. This shocking reality is where my thoughts went after hearing about talks on Reparations for Slavery. My conclusion. . . let’s start talking about Reparations plus interest.

What is Reparation?

Reparation: the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Our history has many examples in which amends were attempted through reparations. The German government continues to pay reparations to Holocaust survivors and to the State of Israel. The United Kingdom paid over $25 million to over 5,000 Kenyan who suffered torture and abuse during the Mau Mau uprising “at the hands of the colonial administration” in the 1950s.

A Selection of U.S. Reparations

The U.S. did provided “reparations” to Native Americans as payment for seized land.

However, the actual funds only averaged out to about $1,000 per person of Native American ancestry, and most of the money was put in trust accounts held by the United States government, which has been accused of mismanagement over the years.

Native American Reparations: Belated Payment for Unjustly Seized Land
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

When the U.S. government overthrew the Kingdom of Hawai’i, Native Hawaiians where forced to live in crowded cities. Many Natives died from foreign diseases. As “reparations” for the land, people of at least one-half Hawaiian ancestry by blood could lease homesteads from the federal government for 99 years at a time for a total of $1.

Much of the land was remote and unfit for development, and it put people who married non-Native Hawaiians at risk of losing their land. Today, those problems persist.

Native Hawaiian Reparations: Land Leases for the Overthrow of a Kingdom
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

After a lawsuit for being left untreated for syphilis while in a “treatment program”, victims of Tuskegee Experiment were awarded $10 million, healthcare and burial services. The state eventually awarded healthcare and other services to the men’s spouses and descendants, too.

Decades later, the experiment is correlated with increases in mistrust of the medical establishment, overall mortality and reluctance to see medical providers among black men, who face significant health disparities compared to their white counterparts in the United States.

Tuskegee Experiment Reparations: Compensation for Medical Brutality
The Thorny History of Reparations in the United States

Reparations Plus Interest: A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View

When we think about reparations for the U.S. enslavement of (descendants of) Africans, many of us will think of “40 acres and a mule”.

By June [1865], roughly 40,000 Blacks had settled on four hundred thousand acres of land before Confederate landowners, aided by the new Johnson administration, started taking back “their” land.

An Historical Timeline of Reparations Payments Made From 1866 through 2019 by the United States Government, States, Cities, and Universities
Reparations Payments Made in the United States by the Federal Government, States, Cities, Religious Institutions, and Colleges and Universities

Wide-spread land ownership for newly “freed” Blacks could had been a game-changer! These were incredibly skilled people. They were blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, weavers, cooks, caregivers, and more. Within this population was every talent needed to build up successful communities. Although such communities did emerge, it was at a much smaller scale than true reparations would have allowed.

Enslavement was devastating enough, but compounding it with systemic racism was and continues to be cruel. And that’s the reason for saying when we talk about reparations for slavery, we should be talking reparations plus interest! Land is great – I would love not to spend another $80-100K in interest for a house that is barely worth that amount. However, the very minimum should include free education and unlimited medical care of choice for the generational stress.

Do you think Reparations plus interest is a fair concept? If so, support Not Mad. Motivated. and let’s get the word out together.

We now have Reparations plus interest shirts and totes available!

My Not Mad. Motivated. Black History

My Black History written by Not Mad. Motivated. Founder Margaret Hall

When I was in high school, I participated in two separate college tour trips. One was to Atlanta, Georgia and the other to different areas of Virginia. Both tours included visits to multiple Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). However, I never really considered going to an HBCU during my college application process.

Instead I decided that I would go to the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. That is until I realized that I would not get the funds I needed to take care of tuition. My next choice was completely different – Clarion University of Pennsylvania – because I knew that I could get a significant amount of state grants to complete my college career. Fortunately, an unexpected opportunity presented itself to me.

North Carolina and HBCU Bound

Around the time of my high school graduation, I received a letter from Bennett College. Bennett, an Historical Black Women’s College in Greensboro, North Carolina, offered me a Presidential Scholarship that covered tuition plus room and board. Considering that I had never heard of Bennett College, this offer came as a complete surprise.

My mind was already settled on staying close to home. It was with the encouragement of my older sister that I decided to give North Carolina and Bennett College a try. My mother was at summer camp for the Army Reserves, so my sister and her good friend drove from Maryland to Pennsylvania to North Carolina to make sure I was at Bennett in time for orientation.

More Than a College Education

Even though I excelled academically, attending Bennett College was far more than just a college education. Bennett nurtured my sense of social responsible. I immediately learned that “Bennett Belles are Voting Belles”. Many freshwomen, including myself, voted for the very first time using a carpool system to the local voting polls. This was an effort led by the [now formal] art professor and current North Carolina Congresswomen.

It was at Bennett that I found my passion for writing. Specifically, it was a paper that I wrote for my Civil Rights Empowerment class that piqued my interest. The paper was about the effect of voting disenfranchisement of ex-offenders on the Black community, and it helped me introduce myself to myself.

More than a College Professor

My professor for the Civil Rights Empowerment class was also an inspiration, leaving a permanent impact on me. She spoke about her double mastectomy and her decision to not have her breast reconstructed. Her vulnerability allowed me to connect with, and learn from, her as a woman. It allowed a certain trust.

There is one piece of advise that she gave the class that I still think of regularly: Never pull over for a police office in a place that is not well lit! She recommended that we turn on our hazards and continue to drive at a slower pace until arriving at a well lit place, to help assure that you are seen by others. She suggested calling 9-1-1, while driving, to let them know about the situation. A real life lesson!

While preparing this post, I found out that this professor passed away about a year and a half after I finished her course and graduated from college. I appreciate the interactions that I had with her and her passion for teaching students beyond the limits of a classroom.

From Greensboro to Tobacco Road

After graduating from Bennett, I decided to attend the School of Public Health (SPH) at the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill. It was a huge change and took a great adjustment. After an unsuccessful first year, I took a year off before starting year two.

Upon my return, I realized how important to was to have a supportive community. I became a member of the Minority Student Caucus. This group not only provided opportunities to socialize with a diverse community of students, but it also allowed me to volunteer, and learn, at the annual Minority Health Conference.

I became a volunteer at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black History and Culture and participated in recruitment efforts for the UNC Graduate School, including a return to Bennett College. These types of activities, and interacting with students from all around the world, helped ground me as a student at UNC. Interacting with passionate students and being woven into the community made all of the difference!

The Tale of Two Chapel Hills

As a UNC – Chapel Hill alumni and as a Black woman, it has been heartbreaking to watch the “Silent Sam” episode unfold. People have spent many years fighting for the removal of Confederate statues and flags. In my opinion, it is because these items represent a culture and a people that fought to keep the institution of enslaving African descendants. These items have been used to tell generation after generation that the Confederate’s fought for an honorable cause and deserved to be memorialized.

It impossible for me to align my past with the current state of UNC. The social responsibility cultivated at Bennett. The passion of UNC students to make a positive impact on their communities. The intention of the “Silent Sam” protesters to remove reminders of oppress. None of these line up with the university’s agreement to award the statue AND a $2.5 million trust to cover costs to preserve it to the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Learning History with the Future

My life experiences offered me many opportunities to learn. However, learning with my sons have magnified my views on being Black in America.

My middle son is such a magnificent history guide. It was his idea to watch the PBS special, Reconstruction: America After the Civil War. This documentary is eye opening! It explores the brief period after the Civil War when formal slaves and free Black people had opportunities to achieve and advance. During this period of time, the formal Union continued to play a role in protecting the rights of Blacks in America.

But the formal Union had a change of heart when they were faces with losing the US presidency. They essentially gave the formal Confederates “free range” on African Americans in the American South in exchange for the being the “leader” of the nation. The idea of Reconstruction began to unravel and the rise of Jim Crow segregation took its place.

The effect of slavery and the failed “attempt” of reconstruction is still seen in our everyday lives. Hate ‘campaigns’ have been past down throughout families and communities, infiltrating all areas of our lives. Doctors, teachers, police officers, law makers, etc. who carry bias ideas about people of African descendant exist. These biases are dangerous to everyone and have no place in our communities.

A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Black History

The series will conclude with a focus on both the flowering of African American art, music, literature, and culture as tools of resistance in the struggle against Jim Crow racism and the surge of political activism. . .all at a time when black political power had been blunted and the dream of an interracial democracy seemed impossibly out of reach.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War Preview

The “Not Mad. Motivated.” mindset to a cruel history is RESISTANCE! I resist biases by encouraging people to thrive beyond their past and their obstacles. We all are needed in this fight against biases and racism. How will you make a difference?

Help spread the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset with a purchase of a t-shirt or tote today. This Black Owned Business greatly appreciates your support!

Celebrate Often and Be Peppered with Possibilities!

Many parents experience difficulties with children having ‘picky’ eating habits. This challenge is often magnified for Autistic children because of the increased probability of sensory processing complications. Whether the food overstimulates or underwhelms the senses, it can be a quick and easy refusal of food on sight or smell alone!

Of course there are Autistic children who enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits. However, many parents – including myself – find it difficult to persuade our Autistic child to voluntarily and consistently consume the most healthiest of foods.

One minor solution to help increase vegetables/fruit intake is to hide these items among food that your child already enjoys. For example, try adding a purée of carrots to spaghetti sauce if your picky eater loves spaghetti. One may conclude that ‘hiding’ fruits and vegetables is a good start. However, the ultimate goal is finding the right healthy foods that your child will be eager to eat!

For more ideas about boosting meals with purées, check out this book.

The Right Super Food Made it to the Table

I admit that I have not been the best at preparing and eating vegetables. I recognized that changing my eating habits could directly influence the habits of my son. This thought, along with some unexpected weight gain, helped guide my decision to participate in a Reset and Rebalance Program. The “Reset” included a week of all the vegetables that I could stand. So when it was time to dice all those vegetables to make some easy and filling soup, I had my seven year old son sitting at the table with me. To my surprise, he picked up a piece of a bell pepper and took several bites!

I must admit that when he first tried bell peppers, he only chewed then (which got messy). But my “Celebrate Often” excitement of knowing that he chose to opened his mouth and try peppers overruled my concerns over the mess. Now, whenever I chop and dice vegetables, I try to have my youngest son sitting with me, leaving every type of vegetable within his reach.

Small Change, Great Reward

You might think that adding bell peppers to a diet is not much to celebrate, but you would be wrong. There are many amazing benefits of bell peppers. They are high in vitamin A, supporting eye health. They are a great source of vitamin C, which supports tissue health and immunity. The folate in peppers supports the functioning of red blood cells. The lycopene, in red bell peppers fight free radicals that are acquired from natural exposure to environmental toxins. Are you celebrating yet? All these benefits are great, but there are a couple more benefits, or possible benefits, that really causes me to celebrate!

The high sources of potassium and the good source of fiber helps keep fluids and minerals balanced and can help regulate digestion. Since my son regularly suffers from constipation, these combined benefits are greatly reflective of his nutritional needs. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, consumption of bell peppers may help lower the risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and prostate. Although my son is only a young seven, his Autism is thought to be a symptom for a rare disease, PTEN Hamartomous Tumor Syndrome (PHTS), which can increase the risk of cancers such as colorectal, breast, and prostate. Amazing, right?!

The Not Mad. Motivated. Mindset

When it comes to a picky eater, just like in life, it is important to create new paths and possibilities to success. We all come across difficult situations, some more difficult and more traumatic than others. These situations are ours to overcome! Whether we have the support of a community, or we are in our “corner” alone, it is ultimately our decision to use all the strength within and around us to survive and seek success.

Not Mad. Motivated. was created to be a reminder to use current and past difficulties and challenges as motivation for forward movement toward positive change. Help us spread the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset by purchasing your Not Mad. Motivated. shirt today!

Not Mad. Motivated. short sleeved t-shirt in Royal Blue with white print.

Coming this week: New Not Mad. Motivated. merchandise!

The Mindset of Motivation

Your attitude,  not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.

When I was younger, I remember seeing a motivational poster with an eagle soaring in the sky. The poster featured the phrase “Dream Big” along with the above Zig Zigler quotation. Throughout my life, I thought about that eagle and the freedom that it represented. With the right mindset, I was able to use that visual input as motivation to achievement goals.

The Tales of Two Mindsets

Do you realize that there are two main mindsets that helps determine our personal drive? Someone with a fixed mindset believes that aspects such as intelligence, characteristics and skills, and perhaps circumstances, are unchangeable or static. According to Carol Dweck, psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, a fixed mindset “leads to the desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to”:

  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily due to obstacles
  • See effort as fruitless
  • Ignore useful feedback
  • Be threatened by the success of others

This type of mindset can be extremely danger to not only the individual and their family, but also to society in general.

Conversely, someone with a growth mindset believes that they can develop their intelligence, characteristics, skills, and circumstances. A growth mindset “leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to”:

  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist despite obstacles
  • See effort as a path to mastery
  • Learn from criticism
  • Be inspired by others’ success

Encouraging a Growth Mindset

If you have a growth mindset and you are a person of influence, such as a parent, teacher, caregiver, or other type of leader, make the effort to encourage others, especially children, to embrace their ability to grow and develop themselves with hard work, planning & goal setting, and accepting help from others. Be an example by asking them to critique how YOU are doing as a person of influence in their life, and use their comments to demonstrate positive change. Teach others to discuss their challenges using positive, reaffirming statements instead words of defeat and discouragement. Also, use visual input as reminders of what they can achieve, and that which they have already achieved!

See 10 Ways to Teach Kids to Have a Growth Mindset, which includes suggested books and additional resources!

Check out the Ultimate Guide to a Growth Mindset (Plus FAQ!).

Embracing Visual Input to Increase Motivation

With a growth mindset, the concept of dreaming big is completely rational since there is an acceptance that one’s abilities and situations are not limited by what one is experiencing today. Seeing hard working parents or leaders creates a visual example which can help inspire the work ethics of a younger generation. When you plan your day, or week, and you are able to check off tasks, you can established a visual that is encouraging you to recognize your efforts and your successes, while motivating you to continue toward additional goals. Get out into nature and be inspired the always changing world that sustains us all! Create a vision board using pictures that reflect your goals and words to elevate your passion and commitment! Make time to be creative and remind yourself that your success is for you to develop and foster!

The Not Mad. Motivated. Mindset

The Not Mad. Motivated. brand was conceptualized from a growth mindset! Being Not Mad. Motivated. represents the decision to grow and succeed despite challenges and obstacles. Living among negative elements with a fixed mindset of hopelessness and anger is a quick way to a life of misery and pain. Not Mad. Motivated. wants to be a reminder of the fact that current difficulties are only temporary if you use them to motivate you into the necessary movement toward positive change. To help us spread the mindset of Motivation, purchase your Not Mad. Motivated. t-shirt today!

Coming soon: New Not Mad. Motivated. merchandise!