The Beast

Take a deep breath.

You haven’t bathed in several weeks.  And you haven’t even eaten for days.

You are caged in a tiny cell. Flies buzz around your mouth and you no longer care enough to swat them away.

In the cage, there are no books, no blankets, hardly any light and absolutely no communication with the outside world. Your throat is dry and you’re pretty sure if you tried to speak all that would come out…

is a hoarse croak.

You sit in the pits of hell.

You are an estranged animal. They chain you flat on your belly to constrain your movement.

Sometimes you urinate and defecate on the floor. You’re too weak to roar or whimper or cry. You lay there helpless in your own muck and think about darkness.

Your breath is slow with reluctance. And your giant frame heaves quietly up and down, its power restrained. You are but a shadow of yourself.

You think back to when you were 9.

Society deemed you unworthy at a very early age.

You’ve been caged for the past 23 years of your life; not in a real cage like this, but it may as well have been.

You remember one Friday morning, a conversation with your mother as she drives you to school.

“The Spelling Bee’s coming up…” your mother begins.

“Mmmhm,” you cautiously respond.

Your mother turns and smiles at you affectionately, “Would you like to compete this year, maybe?”

You freeze up a little and your mind starts racing with horrible images of the other children laughing. You see a sudden flashing image of your freakish self, standing on stage…exposed against pointed fingers.

“What if I mess up?” you think.

“What if they find out what I am?”

“What if my teacher doesn’t think I’m good enough to compete?”

Every reason why not to do it crosses your little 9-year-old mind.

But something inside you nudges you to give it a try.

You ponder the idea for the rest of the day as you float from class to class lost in your thoughts. Numb to the routine taunts around you. That weekend, your mother spends all of Saturday coaxing you to have confidence and give it a try. She tries to comfort you and even pulls out your spelling grades, as if to prove that you can do it regardless…

No…in spite of what you are.

By Monday, she has you convinced. Perhaps with a little preparation, you may have a shot at winning. Maybe. Maybe you’ll finally prove to EVERYONE that you are worthy of their respect.

That morning…

You stroll in with your mother, feeling a sense of fearlessness with her nearby. A bubble of excitement wells up inside you as you head to the front desk secretary and ask timidly for a Spelling Bee enrollment form.  The chubby lady moves sluggishly from her seat to retrieve the form, and slowly drawls at you,

“Are you sure you want to compete in this years spelling bee? You probably won’t win. None of your kind ever do.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” your mother retorts.

Your mother’s face is frightful as she sneers at the lady and growls. You watch expectantly.

The secretary is momentarily taken aback and fumbles for words.

“It’s just…I wouldn’t want you to waste your money on the enrollment fee, is all.  Your daughter probably won’t win.”

You look to your mother and wait for her reply. She collects herself and with a sinking feeling you sense her yield. A horrifying sense of defeat overcomes you and you begin to cry.

Your heart drops with pain.

You can’t believe how easily a few careless words could shatter your dreams….

Come back. Snap out of it!

You’re on the cold hard floor of your cage. A fly buzzes at your ear and snot trails from your nose to your lip. You feel salty tears creeping down your face and you heave with sobs, at the memory of your innocent nine-year-old self.

Did you ever have a chance?

Even as a child, there was no mercy or care. Experiences like this happened to you every day. One would think they might cripple a young freak, and make her weak.

But NO!

HELLZ no.  Hell-to-the-NO!

You were fueled by the battles you lost and you got stronger with age.

Soon enough, the little freak turned into a grown up. And the grown-up came at it with a vengeance. After all, isn’t this why they put you here…with the bars and chains?

You remember how it was…

Every time you went into an “uptown” restaurant and the greeter asked, “What? You’re here to eat?”,

YOU GOT FUELED!

Every time you walked into your local BMW dealership for car maintenance, and the receptionist asked, “Are you looking for someone?”,

YOU GOT FUELED!

Every time one of your customers heard your voice and asked, “Do you really own this business?”,

YOU GOT FUELED!

But, you know what? It’s the LAST STRAW when someone asks you to work and give up your blood, sweat, and tears and let them put their name on it, own it, and not allow you to profit from it.

NO. Enough is enough!

Your mind wanders again…

You remember Carl Brashear, the 1st Black navy master diver who was portrayed in the movie “Men Of Honor”.  You recollect when his wife asked him, “Why do you want this so bad?”

And you recollect his ferocious response:

“Because they said I couldn’t have it.”

All your life, society has deemed you unworthy of success. But now you fight.

You tear at the chains with your teeth. You get angry and you roar!

You rip at your bonds and rattle your cage. It topples and you push the bars apart until they bend, and you scream:

“NO! I WILL NOT BE CAGED.

“I am a PROUD African American woman!

“And I am my own Boss and Master – because they said I couldn’t have it.”

Now open your eyes.

Take another deep breath and relax.

38 thoughts on “The Beast”

  1. Sounds like we're talking about what it feels like to get over that constrained thinking, that mindset that you're not worthy of certain desires just because you're not some other person…

    I mean that's what I think I read.

    I seem to hear that a whole lot from the people I hang out with. A lot of us grew up with the mindset that we weren't destined for anything but clocking in and out. Very few of us have put in the hard work it takes to create a business and pursue a dream. Everyone's stopping short when it comes to career moves yet we're living imagined lives on the Internet.

    I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes the voice that tells us we can't do something is sometimes, unfortunately, our own.

    1. Marianna,

      To be honest with you, I've never told myself that I couldn't do it. It was the people that stereo typed me that automatically assumed I couldn't do it. I've been judged all of my life, which has made it harder to cut through the ropes. But over time, I've learned to embrace these challenges, and move forward.

      Thanks,
      Toni

  2. Sounds like we're talking about what it feels like to get over that constrained thinking, that mindset that you're not worthy of certain desires just because you're not some other person…

    I mean that's what I think I read.

    I seem to hear that a whole lot from the people I hang out with. A lot of us grew up with the mindset that we weren't destined for anything but clocking in and out. Very few of us have put in the hard work it takes to create a business and pursue a dream. Everyone's stopping short when it comes to career moves yet we're living imagined lives on the Internet.

    I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes the voice that tells us we can't do something is sometimes, unfortunately, our own.

    1. Marianna,

      To be honest with you, I've never told myself that I couldn't do it. It was the people that stereo typed me that automatically assumed I couldn't do it. I've been judged all of my life, which has made it harder to cut through the ropes. But over time, I've learned to embrace these challenges, and move forward.

      Thanks,
      Toni

  3. holy shit Toni

    thats an awesome piece of work. With business/life theme being the whole underdog thing and doing what most believe impossible, this was real close to me.

    Thos post is gonna touch and move alot of people

  4. holy shit Toni

    thats an awesome piece of work. With business/life theme being the whole underdog thing and doing what most believe impossible, this was real close to me.

    Thos post is gonna touch and move alot of people

  5. Wow Toni!
    That was amazing and it really touched my heart. You know I feel that sometimes God gives us struggles so that we can become an inspiration to others. You have shown here that God has that plan for you.

    Let it shine girl! :-)

    Melisa

  6. Wow Toni!
    That was amazing and it really touched my heart. You know I feel that sometimes God gives us struggles so that we can become an inspiration to others. You have shown here that God has that plan for you.

    Let it shine girl! :-)

    Melisa

  7. Toni, Toni, Toni…. That is Awesome!

    The only thing that can hold us back is ourselves. We have to push through the tough times, stand up to fear, and use these opportunities that life throws our way to make ourselves stronger and stronger.

    Every struggle is an opportunity to improve yourself. Use these opportunities for all they're worth!

    1. Ken, I've realized that pushing through tough times is what makes me thrive. I lean on past experiences to help me go forward. Thanks for your kind words.

      Toni

  8. Toni, Toni, Toni…. That is Awesome!

    The only thing that can hold us back is ourselves. We have to push through the tough times, stand up to fear, and use these opportunities that life throws our way to make ourselves stronger and stronger.

    Every struggle is an opportunity to improve yourself. Use these opportunities for all they're worth!

    1. Ken, I've realized that pushing through tough times is what makes me thrive. I lean on past experiences to help me go forward. Thanks for your kind words.

      Toni

  9. Tony I am touched by your story. People can be mean and judgmental but we should not give them the satisfaction of hurting us. I know how it feels to be discriminated against. I was always motivated by the fact that there is nothing I can't do. I am a quiet person by nature so I do not give a good first impression. I did my graduate studies overseas. As I was finishing my PhD and graduating, my supervisor told me a secret she kept for a long time. She said that when I applied to work with her she thought I was going to be like the students from ….. country, lazy and slow to learn and she was hesitant about accepting to supervise my project. But she was surprised to find out that I was a quick learner and very hard working person. She was supervising a number of students who started before me but I graduated before all of them even though I had 4 children to look after in addition my study and work. I know she said it as a compliment but it hurts to be pre- judged. Do you just look at someone and say they are stupid or lazy? My son Jim was gifted in many ways. When he was about 8 years old he moved to another school and his English teacher wanted to place him in the lowest English level in the class. Jim did not like that and he complained to us. So his father went to see her and told her that Jim reads the classics and he asked him to read in front of her. Instead of praising him, she said most likely he does not understand what he was reading. So his father asked him to summarize what he read and he asked him to tell her the meanings of the difficult words he read. Apparently she assumed that he does not know English since he is a foreigner and foreigners are no good in English.

    1. Basma, I know you understand the pain and agony that I've experienced. This has been a challenging journey for me, but I embraced the challenge a long time ago, therefore I know I'm going to the mountain top!

      Thanks for the kind words.
      Toni

    2. Prince Ray:
      Its a bit weird that in this day and age, people still discriminate, and are presumptive in their idiotic candid opinions. And, you don't merely have to be from a different country to see that continually. Growing up, I was put in front of a school psychologist, who stated "Your not slow, you merely have a stuttering problem, your actually very bright". That was a turning point for me, I started getting A's after that. I went on to be a produce manager at 16 yrs. of age at the local supermarket managing (5) guys who were 21-23. My best days in business were in Los Angeles, were I not only worked for the 3rd biggest software company in the world (instrumental in getting them on Wall Street) but, also worked in banking with intellectual minds that were on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Coming back to Minnesota, was going back to racism (backwards 20 yrs). That strengthens me, to keep going in several businesses I am currently involved with, that will be taking off shortly. I also, am looking forward to becoming a founder of another company. There's a saying "Without a Vision, the people Die". Therefore, I say, keep your Dreams alive… God's a Dreamer, he dreamed the world and put You and I in it, to keep the Dreams Flowing…………

  10. Tony I am touched by your story. People can be mean and judgmental but we should not give them the satisfaction of hurting us. I know how it feels to be discriminated against. I was always motivated by the fact that there is nothing I can't do. I am a quiet person by nature so I do not give a good first impression. I did my graduate studies overseas. As I was finishing my PhD and graduating, my supervisor told me a secret she kept for a long time. She said that when I applied to work with her she thought I was going to be like the students from ….. country, lazy and slow to learn and she was hesitant about accepting to supervise my project. But she was surprised to find out that I was a quick learner and very hard working person. She was supervising a number of students who started before me but I graduated before all of them even though I had 4 children to look after in addition my study and work. I know she said it as a compliment but it hurts to be pre- judged. Do you just look at someone and say they are stupid or lazy? My son Jim was gifted in many ways. When he was about 8 years old he moved to another school and his English teacher wanted to place him in the lowest English level in the class. Jim did not like that and he complained to us. So his father went to see her and told her that Jim reads the classics and he asked him to read in front of her. Instead of praising him, she said most likely he does not understand what he was reading. So his father asked him to summarize what he read and he asked him to tell her the meanings of the difficult words he read. Apparently she assumed that he does not know English since he is a foreigner and foreigners are no good in English.

    1. Basma, I know you understand the pain and agony that I've experienced. This has been a challenging journey for me, but I embraced the challenge a long time ago, therefore I know I'm going to the mountain top!

      Thanks for the kind words.
      Toni

    2. Prince Ray:
      Its a bit weird that in this day and age, people still discriminate, and are presumptive in their idiotic candid opinions. And, you don't merely have to be from a different country to see that continually. Growing up, I was put in front of a school psychologist, who stated “Your not slow, you merely have a stuttering problem, your actually very bright”. That was a turning point for me, I started getting A's after that. I went on to be a produce manager at 16 yrs. of age at the local supermarket managing (5) guys who were 21-23. My best days in business were in Los Angeles, were I not only worked for the 3rd biggest software company in the world (instrumental in getting them on Wall Street) but, also worked in banking with intellectual minds that were on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Coming back to Minnesota, was going back to racism (backwards 20 yrs). That strengthens me, to keep going in several businesses I am currently involved with, that will be taking off shortly. I also, am looking forward to becoming a founder of another company. There's a saying “Without a Vision, the people Die”. Therefore, I say, keep your Dreams alive… God's a Dreamer, he dreamed the world and put You and I in it, to keep the Dreams Flowing…………

  11. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! And thank you Toni for being so honest. We all face discriminations and like what some others have already commented, we even pre-judge ourselves. How sad!! Nevertheless it is entirely possible to stand up for ourselves and change from the inside and everything that is within our sphere of influence. One thing to bear in mind, at least for me. That is, when the door of that cage is opened and we walk out, it is sometimes tempting but we must fight walking back in – into what we know and is familiar to us.

  12. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! And thank you Toni for being so honest. We all face discriminations and like what some others have already commented, we even pre-judge ourselves. How sad!! Nevertheless it is entirely possible to stand up for ourselves and change from the inside and everything that is within our sphere of influence. One thing to bear in mind, at least for me. That is, when the door of that cage is opened and we walk out, it is sometimes tempting but we must fight walking back in – into what we know and is familiar to us.

  13. You wouldn't believe me even if I told you how much I get you lol. I don't even want to say here. But it was straight from the heart and I felt you the whole way.
    “Because they said I couldn’t have it.”

  14. You wouldn't believe me even if I told you how much I get you lol. I don't even want to say here. But it was straight from the heart and I felt you the whole way.
    "Because they said I couldn’t have it.”

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