Black Girl, White-Collar

I didn’t think I’d have this issue when I got older. I’ve always been the token (or one of few), after all. I grew up in a Minnesota suburb, I attended private school, I studied engineering at a PWI… I should be used to it by now, right?

Not quite.

I was always able to create my own community within another. Although I may have attended Georgia Tech, my friend group didn’t exactly resemble the demographics of the school. However, as a traveling consultant, I no longer have the privilege to ignore my “token-ness”. I’m reminded daily of that fact that I’ve been at my company over two years, and I’ve only been staffed on a project with another black person once. To make the gravity of this a bit more clear, that means that the majority of my interactions with an employee that looks like me have been virtual… So, maybe you can begin to sense why I might be in need of some community.

And, no, it’s not that I can’t have friends of other races, but you need to understand that there are just some things that come with being a black woman (or a person of color, but I will only speak on my experiences) in a space dominated by the opposite that others just won’t experience. There are some conversations that begin to add up after a while. Some comments that really start to get under your skin… And, it would feel amazing to be able to look into someone’s eyes and receive immediate understanding in those moments rather than awkwardly smiling and searching the floor for a way out.

There’s a constant explanation that I didn’t cut my hair, but that it can be a million different lengths and textures depending on something as minor as humidity.

A feeling of frustration from seeing half of my life screaming the names of black men turned hashtags, while the other half goes about its normal Tuesday routine.

The constant assumption that I know the latest dance craze (and the joke’s actually on you because I can’t dance).

Subjugation to the blatant use of “nigga” (and other words like “ghetto”) by people who have apparently deemed me “less black” and therefore a safe place…

And then, of course, the responsibility to explain why that word is like a punch in the gut when it’s used by a someone who isn’t black.

Fear of gaining the “angry black woman” label, even when I know that those same words would sound completely different coming from a man of another race.

Constant wonder around if receiving comments about how articulate I am come purely from the fact that I actually speak well, or because you might not expect me to.

Witnessing the fetishing of black men (especially mixed-race men, because… well, you know… that’s more acceptable).

Fighting back the urge to scream every time someone mentions that they “don’t see color”, because they have the privilege to live in a colorless world while I’m constantly being reminded of mine.

Knowing that the higher I climb, the darker my rose-colored shades will need to be just to cope.

And, an understanding that it’s just not good enough to be great at my job (My Dad taught us this before we were even old enough to have jobs). I also need to possess armor for skin, incredible poise, and expert word choice to navigate each day.

Before you ask, yes, I love my job. No, everyone I’ve encountered at work has not made me feel this way. But, yes, every single one of those scenarios has happened to me countless times. And, no, I’m not angry…  I’m just cluing you in to my daily reality. Why is it that you expect me (or anyone) to be OK with ignorance just because it’s not racism?



Monday Thoughts

“If you love something, set it free.

If it comes back it’s yours.

If not, it was never meant to be.”

I always thought this quote was dumb to be completely honest. If you love something why would you ever let it go? Well I guess that’s the beauty of getting older. Finding yourself in these weird adult situations. Although it’s a lot easier to picture the kinds of scenarios that were the inspiration for this quote playing out in my own life now, it still doesn’t resolve the dilemma for me. Is a well-known saying enough to convince me to let go? I mean this isn’t the Titanic, and unlike Rose I am dealing with a living, breathing human here. I need to know, was this something that was proven like the law of universal gravitation? Is it somehow related to the science that makes boomerangs work? Or, is it just another one of those sayings that help push people to make difficult and/or very necessary decisions…

If it is true, why am I the one thinking these thoughts? How did I draw the short straw? What about my current happiness? How long does it take for “the return”? Will you even know that there will be a return, or do you feel empty every single day until it happens?

On the other hand, what if it’s not true, and they never come back? What if I never find this again? What if it’s all a huge mistake? Will the lightening of the weight on their shoulders due to freedom from all of this anxiety provide me with enough joy to mask my pain? Do we really want to see someone happy if it’s not with us, or do we just tell ourselves that to feel better… to put up a front that is less for other people, but mostly to convince ourselves that we’re strong enough to handle it? Am I really crazy enough to (possibly) forfeit this?

I’m sure it’s easy to determine what to do from the outside looking in… whether to let go or to hold on for as long as you have strength. But, I’m not on the outside, am I? And, although I could rid myself of this constant emptiness in the pit of my stomach, I’m certain that missing all of their subtleties would bring it right back… like how they squeeze my first two fingers when I reach for a hand, or how they always attempt to hold back their smile a couple of seconds before it happens (if you blink you could miss it completely)…

There’s just no guarantee here, and in life you don’t get a re-do. This is like jumping off of a cliff without checking whether there’s water or rocks below. So, what would you do?  Comply or create your own rules? Release control or hold on for dear life?

– Loni


A quarter century. If I had the choice, I wouldn’t change anything about my life to this point. I’ve grown a lot from all of the ups, downs, and mess-ups (mostly from these), but I see room for improvements. Slight adjustments. Not a changing of the overall essence of what/who I am, but moving forward as a smarter, stronger, more mature and more confident me. 

25 things to reflect on during this year and going forward.

  1. Stop “sleeping on myself”
  2. Speak up more
  3. Stop overthinking – especially to the point of inaction
  4.  Stop tolerating situations I shouldn’t
  5. Smile more
  6. Stop comparing myself to others
  7. Say “no” more
  8. Read my Bible daily
  9. Write daily
  10. Pray in good times too 
  11. Take time to rest
  12. Be more spontaneous
  13. Drink more water
  14. Turn off my GPS more
  15. Be direct 
  16. Embrace my emotions
  17. Call/see my family more
  18. Seek wise counsel 
  19. Forgive
  20. Do what makes me happy
  21. Worry less
  22. Be healthier
  23. Don’t be afraid to love
  24. Find the beauty in everything and everyone
  25. “Guard your heart”

– Loni

Law & Order 

You would think since I had a sister only “2 years 2 days and 2 hours” older than me, we’d be super inseparable. Not necessarily true. Growing up we weren’t actually that close. During my early life she was always the girl who was responsible for my missing front tooth in every school picture until 3rd grade due to a fateful game of Ring Around the Rosie, or the girl who caused me to split my head open on the kitchen counter in an effort to avoid the microwave door she swung at my face. Looking back now I think these were all secret plots to get rid of me.

We just didn’t get along. Not that it was really a problem… All siblings go through their ups, downs, and moments of “torture” from the bigger/older sibling. We were just two very different girls. She was a bubbly extrovert who always had a smile ready for anyone passing by. She always had more friends than me and had a date to all the school dances – both our school and those she didn’t attend. The only thing we had in common was playing on the same Varsity Tennis team my freshman and sophomore year of high school (the years we overlapped in school).

(Taking a slight detour here, but we could have been a dream team in all honesty. The Smith Girls. A dynamic duo. Imagine the things they would say! “Who all the girls wanted to be friends with and all the guys wanted to date.” Sorry girl, I kinda ruined that considering I only got attractive 30 minutes ago. Ha. Ok… back to the post.)

Despite all of this, she became a rock for me when our Mom died. How did that happen? I’m not really sure, considering she wanted to return me to the hospital years earlier. I’ve never said this publicly in an attempt to be as nice to those who tried to help me as possible, but I just appreciate (unlike most people) that she never tried to forcefully fill the void in my life. She never tried to be “a mom”. She just kept the law and order.

Imagine all the things your mom does or has done for you and your family. Now, take it all away. Crazy to think about right? It’s like a black hole appears in the middle of your household. Thank goodness that while I was mid-downward spiral into the nothingness, my Sister was calming the chaos for herself, for me, for our Brother, for our Dad… for all of us really. She was always doing the dishes or laundry, kindly suggesting (yelling at) us kids to pick up after ourselves, and reminding us of all the family events and birthdays. Her goal was simply to restore the closest feeling of “normal” as possible.

Everyone always talks about how much my Mom is seen in me. From her looks to her mannerisms, it’s all there. But, they don’t give enough credit to what she left behind with my Sister. She got my Mom’s law (it only makes sense that she’s a lawyer now). It’s like she wrote everything down on her little kid heart; detailing the instructions on how to keep things running. To be the same big sister she always was (I also appreciate that we never got “fake close” because “that’s what should happen”… News flash, that’s not how it works people!), to constantly be thinking of our dad and his happiness when the rest of us may not have been, to maybe worry a little too much, and to keep things in order. So, she did.

Why is this even on my mind? 

It’s random, I’ll admit. But, I was thinking that sometimes I forget you’re only in your mid-twenties… I actually think sometimes you forget it too. I find myself holding you to this super adult standard, which isn’t fair. Even though you may have been a person who grew up fast and spent years holding things together for others, doesn’t mean that you should have everything in your life figured out. There’s still time to grow towards all of your goals. You’ll get there. Don’t give up on them.

I also think we get caught up in measuring ourselves by our degrees and salaries that we forget to look at the other parts… The parts that matter. The impact we’ve had on the world around us. The example we’ve set for others. The care we have shown. I’m pretty sure you have me beat on all of that.

…Well, now you do. For a minute there I was questioning if I’d make it to college without some permanent reminder of your dominance.

– Loni


I haven’t had the time or clear headspace to write for awhile… and now here I am up at 1:45AM. Dark room. Macbook on 30%. I feel the magic about to happen (Update – I overslept 9am service at church).

All the way through college (if you choose to attend), we’re all on the same supercontinent. There may be some natural disasters that shake our individual countries to the core, but life goes on about the same as before. You and your classmates wake up every day, go to school, study, pass your classes and ultimately the only thing left to do is graduate. If you stay on course, that’s your outcome. That’s life on Pangea. And, while we live out life surrounded by all this structure and certainty, the dream of how life will go is developing within it. Everyone is chasing something. Their picket fence and 2.53 person household. Their happiness…

Then world starts to shift and break apart.

Instantly, you have a handful of paths to take when there only used to be one flat land to walk across. One step into the direction you thought was straight ahead could leave the husband and children in the complete opposite direction. The next direction could be fame or overnight success. The third might leave you knee deep in water where there once was dry land. So, which path is right?

Call it a quarter-life crisis if you’d like or blame it on the deliriousness from my lack of sleep, but as I sit in this dark room I feel my world shifting. In fact, it is so quiet, I can almost hear the tectonic plates of my lithosphere making their tiny adjustments. All of my constants aren’t feeling very constant and my “for sures” are more like maybes. And, the personal life events of this past week and a half created a mixture of hurt, worry and confusion; the kind that buries itself so deep inside you and leaves you unsure if you should just vomit or cry…

But would you even feel like this if you weren’t focused on a perfect path? 

True. Currently, there is nothing wrong going on in my life. I have been grasping tightly onto all the little pieces in hopes of maintaining an environment that I think will make me happy down the road.

So, why not less of the path and more of the destination?

It would be a million times easier to move if I wasn’t trying to hold a continent together… And it can be so hard to accept when familiar people and situations float away to form something completely new and far away.

But, you shouldn’t have to force aspects of your life into future existence. What (and who) will be, will be. Worry less. Grow your gifts. Pursue your purpose. 

Thats my new focus. It’s time to confidently proceed forward (praying to God for solid, dry land with every step). The path won’t be pretty, perfect, or straight, but it will be right. Who knows what potential awaits in that distant place… what kind of peace and happiness that comes with reaching my destination.

The Word I received later this morning stuck out to me in particular, so I’m sticking it here at the end. My story has already been written, and every gift I need to fulfill my purpose I already possess. It’s amazing how you hear what you need to exactly when you need to hear it.

…And maybe my 2AM pep talks are meant to be heard by more than just me.


When I was little I was scared of storms. Little rain showers, thunderstorms, tornados, you name it – I hated them all. I never felt safe. It didn’t matter where I was, I constantly worried about what could happen to us when severe storms would hit our area. My Mom, on the other hand, was never scared of bad weather. While I was busy hiding away, you could always catch her looking out a window, somewhat mesmerized by everything happening outside.

One day, a smaller thunderstorm was starting to clear up and my Mom was standing at the front door. My (ironically) favorite smell of spring rain was in the air as the winds began to turn into a nice breeze and the sun moved out from behind the clouds. The only thing separating us from the rain was the screen door to our porch, but hugging her made me feel safe. Without taking her eyes off of what was happening outside she quietly said to me, “You know… there is no need to be afraid of storms. God is in control of the sunshine and the blue skies, but also the clouds and the rain. They may be scary and loud, but He is always there. Look Loni… Remember how beautiful everything is when the sun comes back out?”

I’ve always wondered if that was God’s way of foreshadowing. Or simply the gift of prophetic wisdom? Maybe He simply spoke through her… I don’t know. But what I do know is that it was the single most important lesson I needed to learn from the exact person that the biggest storm I would face was centered around. And, seeing as I would cry outside the bathroom if she took too long, I don’t think anyone thought I’d be able to recover from it…

Losing my Mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, yes. I think about her every day. I’ve written down everything I can remeber about her and our interactions multiple times by now. I’m still so easily overtaken by nostalgia, especially when people mistake me for her (to the point that I freaked out a family friend at the movie theater back home this winter), or someone tells me I’ve somehow picked up another one of her quirks that I honestly didn’t even know about. And, I pray for my salvation in hopes that one day our souls meet again so much, that I don’t even think there are enough angels in heaven to help receive my messages… But, despite the fact that I can’t say I’ll ever “move on”, I’ve matured in my outlook on the situation. 

This is the first time I’ve publicly shared this story with anyone. Probably because it’s taken me a long time to really embrace her lesson on storms. Sometimes I do still get so caught up being frustrated that I can’t call her to ask what to do, or tell her about some unimportant thing I saw, or one day completely disagree about what style wedding dress I should wear, that I can forget to take a second look at the lessons I learned from her years ago (before I fully understood them) for the answers I need now.

I understand now that we live in a broken, cursed world where bad things happen to some of the best people and there is nothing anyone can do about it. That storms are inevitable, but I shouldn’t be afraid of their potential. That I simply can’t live life worried about things that God has control over. And that sometimes I need to remind myself of the beauty around me.

You know how much I love the sunshine, but I’m happy to say that I am no longer afraid of storms, Mommy. Continue to watch over me. I love and miss you more than anyone could understand. – Love, Loni Monster

In Loving Memory of Y.D.S.S. 

The Talk

In an attempt to continue to grow my relationship with God, and as a result of situations I have previously found myself in with people who aided in my confusion between lust and love, I made the choice to be abstinent. This decision was a good choice for me personally, but since I am dating and getting to know new people, it has started to become a decision I have to more openly share with others.

More often than not, I find myself needing to have “The Talk” right away on first dates (it’s crazy how fast sex comes up when you meet someone nowadays, which is a frustration  of mine that happened to escape Computer Love). I don’t want to say that every guy has responded negatively to these talks, because they haven’t. And, I definitely don’t want to say that every guy who has disagreed was completely false in his opinion, because that is not the case either. But, what I can say is that “The Talk” is known to produce responses that have left me perplexed to say the least (especially if I don’t know the person well), so I thought I would share a couple of those with you.

What good is a girlfriend if I can’t have sex with her?

This view on relationships is interesting to me. I thought at this point in our lives, most of us are dating with the purpose of discovering more about ourselves and what we need from a partner, and for some even finding that person to spend your life with along the way. However, it looks like some of us are still in it for the guarantee of a hookup and matching Jordans. But in all seriousness, after probing further (because anyone who knows me understands just how unacceptable this answer was for me… I am a work in progress, pray for me) he rephrased to say, “What good is a girlfriend if I cannot be intimate with her?” In response to this I asked him to explain why sex was the only intimate act he could think of, and although we had a good conversation… we did not agree at the end.

That part of the Bible is no longer relevant.

Hands down the most annoying response I’ve received (three times!), especially when it comes from Christian men. I often find myself wondering how exactly they go about determining what parts of the Bible are no longer relevant, and I’ve never received a solid answer. We want the healing, the saving, the blessings, and the guarantee of heaven to somehow still make sense and exist, but not the uncomfortable and often challenging parts that we are taught to do to display our faith. I bet the wives submitting to husbands part is still relevant… they probably have Colossians 3:18 underlined and highlighted for easy reference.

 What did your Ex do to make you not want to have sex? I can change your mind.  

Nope. Stop. Do not pass “GO”. Do not collect $200. I have nothing further to say to you. In fact, you are probably an expert at creating the exact situations I want to avoid.

If I can’t get it from you, I’m going to get it somewhere else. This is basically an excuse to cheat…

So you mean to tell me, in your late twenties/early thirties you have so little control over your body that if you cannot have sex with your significant other, you go out into the streets and find anyone to have sex with? What happens when she’s traveling on business, or on vacation, or on her period? So, you automatically cheat at least once a month. You are something else…

I respect what you are doing, but it is not for me.

I honestly wanted to throw this man a parade despite the fact that he left me deep within the friend zone. He get’s it. That’s really the point of this post. There is no “winning” on either side. If you decide to freely engage in sex you’re often labeled a hoe. If you decide to wait for a relationship or marriage you’re often looked at as a prude. Just instance #3,862,399 where women are held to an impossible double standard. However, these opinions from others should never cause you to live your life for other people.

You need to be solid in your belief of what is best for your life, yes, but that’s not enough. We also need to stop forcing our opinions onto the lives of others, and start responding to things similarly to the gentleman who is responsible for the last quote. Let’s do a little more listening, and gain a little more understanding even if we don’t agree… Maybe those who were responsible for some of the other responses (besides not ending up on my blog) would have seen my abstinence as less of an attack on them/men or a ploy for attention or to be difficult, and more of a refocusing of my life and the strengthening of a relationship I let go for a couple of years. Because that is exactly what it is. 



It’s Not Much

I wonder where everyone is going. Who they’re traveling to go see. What their lives are like. What they’re going through. Maybe we’re not that different. Maybe we are as different as we think. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own world and forget everyone around us is a person too. They have good days and bad days. They have strengths and weaknesses. They have feelings.

Sometimes I forget I am a normal person too. When I’m in an airport I have on my consultant mask… which is basically (and unfortunately) a self absorbed robot. Always somewhat in a hurry.  Too “important” to wait in lines with those who don’t have status. Gaining more hotel points and airline miles by the minute than are ever necessary in life, yet slightly annoyed by even the slightest hiccup in my travel day… like a delayed flight, or the man who doesn’t know he can keep his shoes on in the Pre-Check line, or the woman who stands in the middle of the terminal hallway obviously very lost.

I think that’s why we spend so much time judging, hating, and fearing people we don’t know. We forget they are people with feelings just like ours. They can be happy, or sad, or anxious, or annoyed like we do… But most importantly we forget that we aren’t perfect and we’re not more important than anyone else. All we really know is our life. Who knows what kind of person we would be with the opportunities they had, their skin color, or their experiences. Do we really have a reason to be anything other than kind?

A lady reminded me of this the last time I was on a flight leaving out of this gate (which was also very delayed like today). She tapped me on the arm while I was waiting in line at a coffee shop and told me my order was paid for. I quickly regurgitated my go-to order to the barista and followed after her to say thank you. Her response was simple, “You’re welcome, it’s not much.” And, as soon as her coffee was ready, she not only walked away, but back out of my life forever. So, why did she do it? Maybe I looked upset, or maybe I just was another woman alone in an airport later in the evening. I’m not sure. But, does it really matter? Did she need a reason to show love for someone she didn’t even know?

She was right though, it wasn’t much, but it went a long way. And now someone who typically wouldn’t care, thinks more about the thousands of people she sees in the busy terminals she frequents… giving a smile, or a compliment, or a helping hand. It’s not much, but no matter where everyone is going, who they’re traveling to go see, what their lives are like, what they’re going through, how different or similar we may be, I do know that kindness feels the same for everybody and we can always use a little bit of it.  

– Loni

Selective Silence

March 20 2003

Well we went to war with Iraq yesterday night. And I fell like daddy is going to war with me. When i went to  my class today everything was fine and when we get home he bands me from the dining room! Then I was talking to mommy and I asked if daddy was in the kitchen and he thought I was going to say something about him and hes like if your going to lie about something don’t say anything. So I going on selective silence agaist him if he’s around I wont talk. I’ll even swear it!

I Elon Nadeen Smith will chose to be silent around  Felton Lewis Smith. This is due to unfair treatment. If I shall break it, renew it. 

Signed, Silent

For the first time in my life my Dad will be living in a different state than me. As he was unpacking boxes, he found one of my journals, and read the excerpt above to me over the phone. It is funny reading my thoughts, my Dad also had to try to force back a giggle or two to save me some embarrassment, but if I remember anything about my 11-year-old self (and no, I don’t mean the obviously gifted writer hidden behind some questionable grammar), it was that those feelings weren’t very funny at all, I thought my dad was my enemy. 

I was an intelligent kid, but no matter how smart I thought was, Dad was always at least three steps ahead of me. As an adult I’ve come to better accept (emphasis on better… not completely accept) being strategically outmaneuvered, but as a kid everything was a competition that I needed to win. Who would win the board games on game nights, who would solve the riddle, who would figure out the end of the movie and ruin it for the rest of our family first (sorry guys)… I lost roughly 98% of the time. And, as if the constant humiliation of defeat wasn’t enough, there was another big reason I found myself “at war” with my Dad. 

He was the only person who challenged me. I thought of myself as (and was often treated like) the golden child that would be the most successful person in the family. But, on top of being intelligent, I was a dramatic, mean, emotional, introverted, and insecure little girl. Because of this, my Dad and I didn’t have the traditional cozy, cute father-daughter relationship like the one I felt that he had with my sister or like those that you see on TV. Being coddled was the opposite of what I needed. Looking back on it now, it was as if everyone could see my potential and thought I would “get there” regardless, but my Dad was the only one to  realize that I had no chance of “getting there” at my current state and it was his task to get me where I needed to be… So he did.

One of the most distinct memories I have was from middle school while trying to do some advanced math homework that I just did not understand. After multiple failed attempts, I asked my Dad for help (one of many perks that comes with having a Chemist for a father). He had me re-read the problem that I had read 100 times looking for some hidden secret message, and then he explained how he would solve it. But, unfortunately for me, he did not give me the answer. I sat at the dining room table and I cried for what felt like hours before I finally got frustrated and focused enough to solve the problem. At that point he came back and said, “No one is ever going to give you the answer. I might not even have the answers to give to you. But, I can teach you how to think.” 

The only thing 11-year-old me could see at the time I wrote in my journal that day was that my Dad hated everything about me, but in reality we all know he never hated me at all. He loved me enough to teach me lesson after lesson, because he understood that later down the road I would need to be a different kind of person than the one I may have been becoming. 

He taught me how to be confident enough to get where I had the potential to be in life. He taught me how to solve problems I had never faced before. He taught me to handle criticism and how to never let anyone control my emotions. But, most importantly, he taught me how to be kind and loving in order to maintain one of the most important things in life, my relationships with others. I didn’t have any of those things before, but no period of selective silence would stop my Dad from instilling those things in me. 

As I read my other journal entries, I realize how much I’ve grown since then in more ways than my height and age. I hope he knows his hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Also, I hope he knows he taught me one of the biggest lessons of them all: 

If I am ever blessed with a family, all of my children will be different. They will have various gifts and personalities, but I will never compare them to each other nor make one feel more special than the other. But, I will need to have a unique relationship with them all to address their varying needs. Some lessons will be tough to teach (especially when we face tough times in life), and if my children are anything like me, they might fight back and/or not really understand them at all at the moment, but I won’t give up… and one day I’ll look back and remember why. 

– Loni

Random Thought #1

This week Loveli Loni had its highest views since my launch week. When I see others reposting my link and sending me positive texts and comments, I reflect back to a week or two before I launched when only a couple of people knew it was happening. My first post was already written but I nervously changed it a millions times a day. A few days after Christmas I received a package that contained a black shirt with my logo printed on the front from my best friend (who I had been going back and forth with for years about how I desperately wanted to write). When I called to say thanks he reminded me that I was a good writer, yes, but more importantly I always put my voice, my most honest self, into everything I wrote, and because of that the readers would come.

I’m glad he was right.