What 2020 Taught Me About Being Black in America

I was born Black, so I have lived the Black experience without giving it much thought. I obtained a surface-level understanding of my Black history. I knew about racism, but only what I was taught. I experienced racism and knew I was in the minority. I didn’t discover my Blackness in 2020, rather I grew into my Blackness. I grew a greater love and appreciation for the good, bad, and everything in between when it came to my skin color. 

I feel that 2020 was a heavy year for Black Americans. Everything we go through was brought to the surface and put on display for the world to see. The systemic and systematic racism, prejudice, denials, accusations, insensitivity, misrepresentation, hate, and more Black people experience was in our face on television, social media, in public, in our schools, and workplace. Being Black in 2020 made me feel anxious, sad, angrier than I can type, tired, proud, motivated, and full of emotion. 

It is fair to say this year has been challenging for everyone. The challenge posed by 2020 has not been isolated to one race, but Black people have disproportionately been impacted at higher rates than their non-white counterparts. When it came to COVID-19, Blacks were disproportionately affected for a multitude of reasons. Black people are more often overweight, suffer from comorbidities (multiple health problems), have decreased healthcare access, and are front line or essential workers. 

We had COVID-19 on top of Black people being killed by the hands of police officers that were not appropriately being punished. We had a President in the White House that fed the racism, especially when he would not denounce racism and told far-right, racist groups to “stand back and stand by.” For a moment I thought I was living in the Twilight Zone. This could not be real life! Is this the America I, as a Black woman, am supposed to be proud of? 

I learned that there are allies to Black, marginalized, non-white people, and there are those living in the cognitive dissonance of what is going on. I have waffled back and forth about my disgust, disdain, and disappointment in a lot of White people. I cannot generalize and say that all White people are racist, complicit, and do not care because I personally know some loud, outspoken, active allies. I can say there are too many White people who are racist, classist, lack empathy, and are unapologetic about it. 

I learned a good number of White people in high places do not care about the structural makeup of our country as long as they get to stay ahead. I learned that your everyday White person may not be blatantly racist, but they care more about what their peers think than being a true ally. It was ok to post a black square on Instagram in solidarity with Black people, but their regularly scheduled programming soon resumed. 

I found myself initially trying to explain the Black experience and put in words what I was feeling and going through, but I quickly stopped that. I grew disgustingly tired of non-Black people refusing to utilize the resources available to them. There are all kinds of information on slavery and the effects of slavery, systemic and systematic racism in housing, schools, law enforcement, the workplace. There is the history we were spoon-fed in school and there is the history available online, in books, and from the mouths of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who lived it.  

I feel there are non-Black people that want us to just get over slavery, racism, and pretend the racial disparities we experience do not exist. We are often sold the myth of “Black on Black crime,” as if other races are not killing each other. I watched more than my share of White on White crime where they kill their entire family, children included, and get a documentary featured on Netflix. I feel bad for Black people that come in contact and experience bias from their healthcare provider, their real estate agent, the banker, the store or restaurant owner, the school they send their children to. It is exhausting to think about how deep our skin color penetrates our lives. 

I learned education, social status, and geography do not make me immune from racism. I will not be spared symbolisms of hate such as the Confederate Flag or swastikas. I will be labeled lazy and dumb, no matter my credentials or that I have been working since I was 14-years-old. I cannot protect my children 100 percent of the time from racists or being discriminated against. These are my sad realities. 

I took an Ancestry test because I wanted to know where I came from. I am clearly Black, but Black from where? What flag can I fly that speaks to my heritage? Am I a little Black or a  lot of Black? I am proudly from West Africa mostly Nigerian, then Sierra Leonean, with a small percentage of Britain/Irish DNA (likely from colonization). I have proof of my Blackness derived from the greatest continent on this Earth, Africa. This is where life originated and I can finally trace my roots to specific countries. This is an experience I did not have the first 36 years of my life. Nonetheless, I’m ready for my reparations. 

This past year has taught me a lot. I had to find my Black voice and speak unapologetically and truthfully about how I felt. I had to share my anger, my pain, and my concern for my loved ones and every other Black person in the world. I became intentional in making sure my children learned real Black History and not the PG version of horrible things Black people have experienced. I have learned to protect my peach and not be gaslighted by society. Racism is and was real and it impacts every Black person you know. I have no problem pointing someone in the direction of information to answer questions they have about my race. 

It has been a tough year as a Black person in America in 2020, but I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I feel there may be a sequel to this post, time will tell. 

I Am Jackie

*All thoughts and opinions are my own and are not related in any way to any organization, employer, or institution.

Sorry, Not Sorry

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

I don’t know if it is just me or if anyone else can relate, but I say “I’m sorry” a lot. A LOT! Lately, I have been noticing that I just say it without even thinking about it. It could be that I am doing something that causes discomfort, like a procedure at work or combing my daughter’s hair and I am saying “I’m sorry” at a grimace or complaint of pain. I could make a simple mistake and before I know it, I am saying it again. There are many things where if I thought about it, I am not really sorry. I may have made a mistake, my intention may have been different, but I was not sorry. I think I have subconsciously developed the idea that people want to hear that. Maybe I am over-thinking it, but I could not imagine someone wanting to hear “I’m sorry” if it isn’t sincere. 

I do believe in sincere apologies and for me, I realize that when I am really apologetic, I do not even say “I’m sorry.” I usually say “I apologize for….because…” I include an explanation of why I am apologetic every time. 

I have consciously been thinking of phrases I could use instead of “I’m sorry.” Here is what I thought of: 

  1. Forgive me. 
  2. That was not intentional. 
  3. I made a mistake. 
  4. This (procedure, hairstyle, or whatever) will be over shortly. 
  5. Thank you for being patient or understanding.
  6. I see how this or that inconvenienced you. 

What are your thoughts? Are you sorry for being human and making a human mistake? I’d love to hear from you!

I Am Jackie

Yes, I am a Christian and yes, I am mad AF.

Dear God, I am tired. People are tripping. Why are we still dealing with racism? 

Nearly every morning I read and post a scripture from the Bible. I try to listen to a sermon in the morning or something aligned with God to get my day started. The pandemic has not allowed for church services as we once knew, but before that, I attended church on occasion. I was not an every Sunday attender and for me, that was ok. I mean, God exists outside the church. I do have a church home. I am saved. I pray often. I need to read my Bible more. I curse sometimes. I drink. I feel.  I am human. 

Unless you are living under a rock, the events that have been going on in the U.S. incited by racism and injustice have dominated the news. There have been protests and riots. People are in pain. As a Black woman, with Black children, borne to Black fathers, marrying a Black man, with Black relatives I care deeply for…I am pissed. That is saying it in the nicest way possible. 

Maybe I could be more patient, more forgiving, show more grace if what happened to George Floyd was an anomaly. If a black man being killed by a police officer, while in police custody never happened in this country. Maybe I would be less anxious and less upset if I knew that justice would prevail and that police were subject to the same punishment as others committing similar crimes. Maybe, I would be less calloused if the list of names was not as long.

 George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Lorenzo Dean, Eric Reason, Christopher McCorvey, Christopher Whitfield, Atatiana Jefferson, Dominique Clayton, Pamela Turner, Botham Jean, Antwon Rose II, Stephon Clark, Ronell Foster, Aaron Bailey, Jordan Edwards, Alteria Woods, Paul O’Neal, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Sylville Smith, Terrille Thomas, Willie Tillman, Demarcus Semer, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, Dante Parker, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland….that isn’t even half of the deaths. 

The police are killing us.

Then we have white people killing us, trying to kill us, or set us up to be killed. With the rise of white women calling the police on Black people for simply existing. Jesus, do you see this?  

If only I did not have to mourn, cope, and regroup as part of a vicious cycle. If only I could actually heal. Truthfully, us black people have not been allowed to heal before the scab of racism, and death is ripped off. We are mentally tormented with images of people that look like us or our loved ones being killed. Their lives are being shown as disposable and not important. The courts do not serve us. God, I’m trying to find the right prayer for this time. Am I not praying right? 

This country has failed Black people. As we try and push past every systemic obstacle thrown our way, our heads are being held under proverbial water. Society wants us to drown more than they want to allow us to live. 

Maybe, I would be less hurt if white people and other non-black people showed as much concern about Black human life as they did for Amy Cooper’s dog, Henry. Maybe if people put as much energy into fighting for racial justice, equity, and equality as they do into their feelings about corporations being burned down, I would feel better. 

Dear God, why are people like this? 

I find it funny how some are posting their aesthetic content on their social media page and are silent during the injustice, but loud AF when the protests and riots are going on. These same people are vocal when a flag is being burned or ripped off the pole, but are as silent as a church mouse when police officers are killing us. 

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth, as it is in heaven. Dear God, they are not doing heavenly things down here. 

We are tired. We are tired of the lack of empathy, lack of justice, lack of concern. We are tired of being strong, while continually being beaten down. We are tired of the lack of leadership available to protect us. We are tired of serving in a country that does not see us as equals. We are tired of people telling us to get over racism. We are tired of people being racist. We are tired of warning our children about things you do not have to tell yours. We are tired of people being quiet! We are tired of being policed by everyday white people with assumed authority over where we are and what we are doing. We are tired of being tired. Riots are the voice of outrage and disgust. Peaceful protests only go so far with some people. 

Dear God, I ask that you forgive the anger I feel in my heart. Forgive me for cursing ignorant people out. Show me a glimmer of hope. Amen.

I Am Jackie

I Am Black.

I Am Tired. 

Black Lives Matter

Please Don’t forget about Physician Assistants!

Dear public, news outlets, fellow healthcare workers, legislators, insurance companies and payors, medicare, and everyone else;


I am a healthcare provider, but specifically a physician assistant or PA. I am part of a profession that has been around since 1967 in the U.S. This position was created in response to the physician shortage during that time and to create better healthcare access for patients. I feel physician assistants are forgotten about when giving healthcare providers accolades or enacting legislature regarding practice because people do not clearly understand what we do and our role in their care. If any time is a good time to advocate and educate the public and elected officials about the importance of PAs, it is now. This is not about competition or who is bigger or better, it is about the people. The U.S will see a shortage of nearly 46,900 to 122,000 physicians by 2032 according to data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)! Physician Assistants can also help fill that gap! I say “also” because many articles or blogs written on this topic include Nurse Practitioners, but exclude us PAs!


PAs are healthcare providers that diagnose illness, prescribe medications, perform procedures, order diagnostic tests and interpret them, manage and develop treatment plans, counsel patients and their families on their illness. We are educated at a master’s degree level and perform more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations. We work in every state, in every medical setting and specialty, you can think of. Examples of where you may see a PA included a primary care office, urgent care, emergency department, surgery, pediatrician office, radiology, psychiatry….basically, everywhere.  I am sure many have encountered us in our white coats and assumed we were the medical doctor or nurse, despite us introducing ourselves and title. 


I want us to not be forgotten in the current health crisis. There are over 140,000 physician assistants in the U.S.! Emergency rooms, clinics, ICUs, inpatient departments are employed and staffed with physician assistants during this COVID pandemic. PAs, along with other healthcare providers, are risking their own health and the health of their loved ones to take care of the sick we already planned to see with cold and flu season, plus the sick from COVID19. While emergency legislation will be pushed regarding healthcare providers and healthcare access, I want physician assistants to not be excluded from any advancement and ability to practice with full authority. This is not a matter of ego, but a matter of providing the general population with high-quality care. Now is the time for each state to eliminate the legal requirement for a specific relationship between a PA, physician, or any other healthcare provider in order for a PA to practice to the full extent of their education, training, experience AND authorize PAs to be eligible for direct payment by all public and private insurers. The time is now! This is something that will help so many people get the healthcare and access they need in a timely fashion. Remember, people still need to have their chronic health care problems managed during this time. 

What can we do? Fellow PAs, be sure you are a member of your state physician assistant organization because the numbers do matter. We are a force when we work together on one accord. Work with your state organization’s advocacy chair, house of delegates, and voice your questions, wants and needs. Also, be sure you are a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Run for an elected position. Contact your state legislators about the advancement of PA practice. Educate and inform people you come in contact with about the awesome career you have as a PA. Volunteer at schools so children aspire to go the PA route, but to also increase awareness about our profession. Media outlets and reporters, do not forget to include physician assistants in healthcare stories, in healthcare opinion pieces, or healthcare educational topics. Hospital organizations, do not forget to include physician assistants in leadership positions and decision-making, we are qualified for such tasks. 

All healthcare providers matter and we must collectively work to ensure that all are provided the opportunity to serve to their fullest capacity.  Our goal should always be to meet the needs of the people we take care of.

I am Jackie






I’m a PA, ask about me.

Allow me to introduce myself to many and re-introduce myself to others! I am a physician assistant, also known as a PA.

What’s a PA?

I’m glad you asked!

A PA is a licensed medical professional that has been trained in the medical model, that practices medicine in partnership with physicians. PAs are licensed by state medical boards and pass a national certification examination with recertification every 10 years. (pasdothat.net) PAs do many things including obtaining medical histories, conducting physical examinations, prescribing medication, performing procedures, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, counseling and educating patients and their families…..and even more! Basically, PAs are able to perform any task delegated by a physician that they have been trained to do.

There is a chance you have been treated by a PA and did not know it. PAs practice in all types of settings from hospitals to clinics. They also practice in a variety of specialties, from family practice to cardio-thoracic surgery, and everything in between! PAs are highly skilled medical professionals that have been changing the healthcare game since 1967!

I have been a PA since 2011! It has been one of the best decisions I have made personally and professionally. I cannot wait to share more of my PA experience with you all through my blogs, social media, and my time as a NCCPA Ambassador (don’t worry, this will be explained later)! My goal is to share advice, tips, motivation, stories and more!

I’d love to hear your questions, feedback, and toughts!

I Am Jackie


A Season of Gratitude

As we are closing out the month of December and concluding the last month of this decade (yes, this decade!), I am reminded of the importance of gratitude. We celebrated Thanksgiving last month, Christmas is tomorrow, and I realized that it is near impossible to summarize a year (and life) full of things to be thankful or grateful for in one sentence. 

This year has been a year full of blessings, lessons, and setbacks. While some have experienced the best of times, for sure, there have been people experiencing the worst of times, and even more experiencing both! Despite what we post on social media or what we show in the company of others, 2019, has been a beautiful, chaotic year. Maybe it is because of a shift from one phase of life to something new, I’m not quite sure.

I want to encourage and remind anyone else that has had a challenging year of the things we can be grateful for every day, no matter the year, no matter the holiday, no matter what. 

I am grateful and thankful for these things everyday:

  • Life. How many times are we hearing about people dying young or unexpectantly? Every day we wake up is another opportunity to get something right, impact someone else’s life. Plus, nothing is guaranteed, not even our next breath. 
  • Love. Whether it is from a parent or a child, from a lover or friend, to be loved and give love is something to be grateful for. Love is patient, love is kind, God is love. 
  • Family. We have the families we are born into and the ones we create. Family is our built-in friends, counselors, confidantes, helpers, and more. There is always love. Not everyone has such a luxury. 
  • Moments. I have a running movie of moments in my head that I am forever grateful for. Some things are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, while others may seem rather routine and not that big of a deal. 
  • To be of sound mind and body. Now, when older people used to say this, I had no clue nor appreciation for how important it is to be able to walk, use my hands, and think. 
  • The ability to provide. Whether it is something material or not, it is a gift and blessing to be able to provide knowledge, gifts, shelter, love, food, or more. 
  • For redemption. We are able to recreate our narrative if we want to. It is never easy, but we are not tied to who we used to be, and isn’t that great? 
  • For free will.  We have a choice in what we participate in and with whom. 

If I were to write out everything I am grateful or thankful for, the list would be long, including all sorts of things. I want to remind you that the big things matter, but so do the small victories and moments. 

I Am Jackie

Getting it Done

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

How Do I Get it Done? By “it,” I mean everything. This is probably the question I am most often asked. I really wish there was a magical formula I could sell, but there isn’t…at least not in the physical sense. 

Contrary to belief, I do not have a clone and there are some things I just do not get done, like folding laundry!

I’m a mom of three, a fiance, and have a bonus child. I am a full-time Physician Assistant, I am a member of a non-profit community organization that I once sat on the board of, I write, I work out (sometimes), I participate in pageants and am currently working on my doctorate degree. I also binge-watch reality tv, spend way more time on social media than I should, try to be social and squeeze in outings with friends, and travel.

Yes, just a few things, right? 

Again, no secret formula, but here are some truths. I do not keep a rigid schedule. I need flexibility in what I do because all parents know, things can change in an instant. I have to be adaptable or go insane. I come up with a list in my head of things I’d like to complete in a said time frame and sometimes it happens, and other times it doesn’t. I do not be too hard on myself unless it was something major, but I typically accomplish my big, major goals. 

I have a tendency to be distracted and procrastinate, so I often struggle with getting started. I’m good a zeroing in on a project or task. This has been a challenge for as long as I can remember. If something does not interest me and I find it boring, it takes me forever to complete it. For example, I am currently in school and the two classes I am enrolled in is a research class and social issues, class. I like the class on social issues finding it particularly interesting, meanwhile, I just do not like research and statistics so my other class is boring and takes me forever to finish the work. 

Here are some tips to help you “get it done:” 

  • Figure out what you want to accomplish and assign general deadlines to it
  • Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. You can’t do everything you want to do at the same time, so put some things on the shelf to do later.  
  • Assign times to perform certain tasks. For example, spend 30 mins a day writing if you want to write a book. 
  • Be realistic. There has to be a balance between the dream and reality. 
  • Do not mourn the failure of completion. If you feel it is necessary to mourn, then it should be brief because part of getting things done is to keep moving forward with the understanding that things will not always work out. 
  • Listen to logic more than your feelings because sometimes, you will not feel like doing anything. This always happens when I start going back to the gym. 
  • Put on the blinders and do not compare. Your goals and your dreams are YOURS. Do not look at what someone else is doing and try to make that your dream, because then it is just their dream…

What would you add to this list?

I Am Jackie

Teen mom, unscripted

I was a teenage mom. It was not glamorous. It was not a television show. No cameras, no confessional rooms, no reunions. It was real life. My real life. I was a 17 year old kid about to have a kid. My experience changed the course of my life, for the better. The journey was not easy, nor pretty.

I thought I was in love and that I knew way more than I did. I mean, I was 17 years old, almost an adult, right? I thought I had everything figured out. I was on birth control, but I was late in taking it. I thought I would be good. Now, I did not intentionally become pregnant. It was more carelessness and a belief of invincibility than anything. I had these big dreams of going to the Olympics as a track star, becoming a doctor or teacher or becoming a famous model. None of my plans included having a baby. As a matter of fact, I did not want any kids the immediate future. I was the oldest of four, raised by a single mother, which means I helped a lot in watching my siblings. They made me not want any kids. It’s funny how God and the Universe works.

I was starting my senior year of high school and the details are fuzzy in the very beginning, but I do remember waking up horribly nauseated during summer school. I didn’t think much of it. My period was irregular, so I didn’t think much about missing it for a month or two. I eventually took a pregnancy test, and it was positive. No matter how much denial I was in, it was definitely positive. I remember a surge of feelings. I was ashamed, embarrassed, afraid. I felt like I definitely screwed up. I was afraid to accept the reality of it all initially. I had so many questions. What would my teachers think? What will my classmates think? What about college? What can I do? What can I be (in a professional sense)? Can I really raise a baby? I thought about an abortion, but I was convinced to my core that if I followed through with an abortion, I would not be blessed to have a kid in the future.*

I had to be around 4-5 months before I told my mom I was pregnant because of fear. I was super skinny, so eventually she would have found out. I was afraid of what she would think of me after telling her. I was afraid of what others would think of her about me. I felt like such a disappointment. When I told her, she didn’t snap on me, didn’t sound angry, didn’t say she was disappointed. She was calm and said she knows I will be ok. It wouldn’t be easy, but I would be ok. Talking about a weight being lifted! I was afraid of her and what she thought more than anything. Her response made anything anyone else thought or say not matter.

People at school did not know I was pregnant until I was 6 months along. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself because of it. I went to school and every class every day. I do not remember missing a day of school because I was pregnant. I also worked on the weekends. I did not want to be a burden on anyone, so I tried to do as much as I could. There came a time when I couldn’t work because my job required repetitive lifting. I performed well in class and applied to area colleges because I knew I had to prepare a decent life for my son.

The kid and me.

I delivered a healthy baby boy exactly three months before my high school graduation. I stay out of school for 4 weeks and during that time, I tried to stay on top of all my school work. There was one teacher that would not let me make up any of my missed work. She stated that if I could go to K-mart, I could be in class. I had seen one of my classmates while picking up my lay-away at Kmart. She mentioned seeing me and the teacher overheard. So, I earned a C- minus in that class. It was ok, I excelled despite that. When I returned to school, I finished the work I needed to, applied to college, and took my ACT. I had decided nursing would be perfect to pursue. I liked taking care of people, I enjoyed learning about the human body, and I knew I could make a good living and provide for my son.

I graduated valedictorian of my high school class. I bust my butt to do so. I had the support of my family and some very dear teachers. My high school chemistry and nursing teachers were phenomenal. At times, I felt my chemistry teacher believed in me more than I believed in myself. She helped me write my valedictorian speech and then she gave me a card that I still have today. She wrote that I was a star and to never let anyone dim that. She saw my potential and did not label me or discard me.

Being a teenage mom was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I had to grow up quickly. I had to make responsible decisions because what I did affected me and my son. I had to build a tough exterior because not everyone spoke positively or were encouraging. Below are some lessons I learned.

  1. No one is perfect. Not a single person. We are human and we will make mistakes.
  2. Life can be hard, but it won’t be impossible.
  3. Prioritize priorities. Everything cannot matter on the same level.
  4. Work hard, prove the doubters wrong.
  5. You are not your circumstances. You are whoever you want and work to be.
  6. Be kind. Speak kindly into the life of others. You don’t know their story. You never know who that person is to become in your life or in the life of others. They could change the world.
  7. Have faith in God, the Universe, our ancestors that your life has meaning and purpose. DO NOT GIVE UP.
  8. It’s ok to cry and not have it all figured out. DO NOT GIVE UP.
  9. Surround yourself with positivity.
  10. Have a plan for where you want to go.
  11. It will all work out for our good in the end.

*I am pro-choice. I chose what was best for me and believe in women having the right to choose what is best for them.

I Am Jackie

He’s technically an adult now. We survived.

I’m Back!

Allow me to reintroduce myself to some and introduce myself to everyone else!

I’m Jackie and this is the relaunching of my blog, I Am Jackie!

I have been blogging since 2015. I found writing to be not only therapeutic after my divorce, but influential and impactful to others. I have changed the content of my blog over time to reflect my stages of growth and learning.

In 2017, I self-published my first book, Messages to Our Daughters. It’s a book of affirmative messages and positive quotes, for young girls and women. It was one of my proudest moments because I struggled bringing myself to complete it and publish it. I was afraid of critique, but once I put it out there, it was there.

I had taken a break from writing in the past year to adjust from some life changes. I went through a season of letting go, seeking balance, and treating myself better. I had to slow down and enjoy each moment. I had to be intentional with my time and reconfigure my goals.

I’m glad to say I’m back and ready! My whole intention in writing is to inspire, encourage, make you think, and when I can, make you laugh. I want to keep it real, talk about meaningful issues and to demolish this perception of perfection.

I welcome you to come along on this journey. Please comment or share!

I Am Jackie