In Shock

For a timeless moment, he was suspended within the confines of his car. Then gravity took over with a force that sent the vehicle hurtling down the face of the ravine.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” His broken apology flew down with the blood spewing from his lips.

Natalie gets out of her crunched up car and stands over the ravine as she watches his car juggle its way to the bottom. She yells something and smiles as the car bursts into flames. She pulls out her phone and puts on a show that masks the joy within her and dials 911.

“Hello, Oh my God, its on fire, please. I was following him and a car hit us both, but his car went over the ravine.” Faux tears falling from her eyes. Another car coming around the dangerous curve pulls over. The driver gets out and runs to Natalie’s aide.

The driver notices the smokes from the flames down in the ravine as he get closer to her, “Miss, are you alright? What happened?”

Natalie was not prepared for a witness, so she cranked up her theatrics, became inconsolable, and dropped to her knees. The driver took the phone from her and explained their location to the emergency operator. He held Natalie until the mountain side echoed with sirens and beamed with blue and red lights.

Natalie was now in the care of emergency personnel and the driver gave the police his statement. The joy Natalie felt began to creep to the surface as she began to laugh hysterically and then cry to cover it up. The EMTs said that she was in a state of shock.

As one of the EMTs walked Natalie to the police vehicle that would get her home the entire mountain side froze, “HE’S ALIVE, HE’S ALIVE. RESCUE TEAM, MOVE!”

Natalie overcome with emotion, mostly anger and frustration, stood anxiously by as she watched the emergency rescue crew recover her husband. They make it to the top and the EMTs work to stabilize him for transport.

Natalie rushes over, completely distraught and desperately trying to see the extent of his injuries, “John, John, are you okay, talk to me.” The police hold her back and take her back to the squad car so the EMTs can do their job.

John, now stable, mustered up a few words and handed over his cellphone to an officer. John presses a button as officer looks at the phone. Seconds go by and anyone in earshot of her husband’s phone turns and looks at Natalie.

Natalie is confused. An officer approaches her to give her an update, “Ma’am, I am Officer Cofield. Your husband is now stable but is pretty beat up with more than a few broken bones. He was thrown from the vehicle, ironically enough, that was lucky for him.”

The officer looks around, signaling officers close by to approach as he pulls out John’s cellphone, “John handed me his phone before they took off. He showed me something that maybe you could explain.”

The officer presses play as Natalie takes the phone in her hands. Immediately John’s frantic voice can be heard, “She is crazy. If anyone sees this, my wife is trying to kill me. Oh my God. Natalie, No! Please. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Screeching tires and a loud collision can be heard as the video turns blurry. It returns to focus with a shot face up toward the road and a figure in plain view.

The figure yells, “I HOPE YOU FUCKING DIE,” and the video stops shortly after. Natalie, now shaking, replays the video over and over as a grin grows on her face and tears gracefully fall from her eyes. Her body is in shock.


Writco by Corinne Coleman

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I Don’t Know Why I Remember…

I don’t know why I remember walking down the streets of New York with my mom and my friend Stephanie when I was 14-years-old. It was mid- February, right after the September 11th attacks, the air was frigidly cold, and the streets were empty. That sounds like an oxymoron for New York. Still, there were hardly any people, and the only cars around were police cars, and the officers staged on street corners.

We had just gotten off of the train. As we headed up the stairs, the smells from the subway and of Canal St. collided.  The scent instantaneously grabbed my attention, as it was a strange but almost slightly familiar smell.  But I just figured this is New York!

As we continued walking and taking in the chilly air of the city while walking to my Aunt’s building, one of the officers immediately stopped us. He asked us what we were doing and where we were going. We all pointed to the tall high rise in front of us, and as my mother explained, we are visitors staying on the 27th floor of the building. He let his guard down and explained that the area was off-limits. He hesitated to explain why at first, but he looked at my friend and me, then back at my mom, and gave the most honest answer he could.

He told us that there are crews working night and day cleaning up and searching for remains. The minute he said remains, it hit me: The smell.

What I was smelling was not the traditional scent of the streets of New York. I was smelling tragedy, fear, pain, anguish; I was smelling death. The more I breathed in, the flood of confusion from that day came pouring into my subconscious. When I looked at the officer, I knew he didn’t want to explain that to a couple of kids, but I understood and appreciated the truth.

My mother apologized on our behalf and thanked him. We walked in a different direction to get to my Aunt’s building. Before he completely left my sight, I continued to look back at the officer as he patrolled the area, turning cars and people away. As he grew smaller, I couldn’t help but think that all that was lost and stolen from me on 9/11 was my innocence, and I wondered what was lost or stolen from him that day.

The Perspective Part III: Sabrina

Every morning Jackson opens the door to my room, and he walks in, speaking to me as if I can respond; he smiles, inhales, and then exhales with a great sense of relief and pleasure. He walks to the window, on the newly installed carpet, the new fibers between his toes clearly amuses his soul.

He looks at me, still smiling, as I lay on the bed, motionless, cold, looking frightened.  He pulls the covers up over me and runs his fingers through my hair, watching as the sun glistens through each dead-end strand.

I hate it when he does that. 

Then, as if trying not to disturb me, he carefully walks around the bed, stands in the doorway, and gives one last Grinch-like smile before heading back down the hall.

I watch as he enters his office; he spends a lot of time in there. The room was frigid and dark; he never opens the thick, dusty, black curtains in this room. The first thing he does when he walks in is look out of behind them, looks around the neighborhood, and closes them, making sure no amount of light can sneak in.  The only luminescence allowed to shine through comes from the blue light filter rapidly pulsating from his computer monitor.  He reinforces the curtains and proceeds to log on to the computer to check and send a few emails before 7am.

I float back down the hall and stand in my doorway and stare at myself. Death is unbecoming for me.

 I continue to the front door as I try, yet again, to leave. I can’t, something won’t let me, so I wander back to my room and look out the window. I see why he opens the curtains in here. The lighting is lively, but the view is even more beautiful. The cloudless blue sky, chirping birds and cicadas as the soundtrack, and sequoia trees stand tall and mighty.  I’ve been here for a week and have never looked out of this window.  

I have only just come to terms with my demise, and though I haven’t felt anything since he wrapped his hands around my throat, I am feeling a strange sense of hope watching the corn stalks drift in the wind.

            I hear him leave his office just as I noticed something strange outside; Jackson breaks his routine and says

“Hey, Breen-Bean,” only my mom calls me that, “… your mommy says hi!” He then heads down the hall towards the kitchen to prepare his breakfast and start his day. I haven’t talked to my mother in weeks after we had our huge fight. Maybe she can sense something is wrong and so she reached out.

            I glance over at my body, hopeful and annoyed, as the doorbell rings. That’s never happened before. Maybe today is going to be a good day after all.

The Perspective Part II: The Narrator

The Narrator

            Jackson wakes up every morning at the same time and goes through his daily routine. He finds his bathrobe and cozy slippers and makes his way around the house, opening all of the curtains to let the sun naturally brighten and warm up his home. Jackson starts with his room, first the curtain by closest to his bed, then near his closet.

After brushing his teeth, he strolls out of his bathroom and down the hall to the guest room. Jackson opens the door and is instantly overjoyed. He cheerfully enters while conversing with his house guest and opening the curtains. The curtains now wide open, Jackson appreciates his 3-acred backyard filled with nature and his cornstalks drifting in the wind. He also enjoys how the sun gleams over the lifeless body of his new visitor lying on the bed. Eyes wide open accompanied by the look of shock and terror, are still frozen on her face after a week later.

Jackson sits next to her, admiring her rigor mortis, and runs his fingers through her hair. He kisses her forehead and carefully walks out of the room as if he needed to be quiet, not to disturb her deathly slumber.

Jackson pleasantly smiles one last time and heads down the hall to his office. He does not open the curtains in this room; instead, he peeks out behind them from time to time, but the only light that ever shows comes from the computer. Jackson sits at his desk and starts to check his emails. He was getting hungry, but he came across an email that he had to reply to right away and would take him less than 5 minutes. It is an email he has sent more than a few times.

He eerily grins as he begins to type his thoughtful response:

            Dear Mom,

            Sorry for the late response. All is forgiven. I didn’t want you to think I was still upset. There was a storm that knocked out the internet last week, and it finally decided to cooperate. However, to answer your question, things are going great! I’ve been enjoying my time here as I meet new people and try the local food. Even the weather is perfect. Please tell Dad, Tyler, and Samantha, I said hi and that I love them all very much. Can’t wait to come home in a few months for the holidays.

            Love you Lots,


Content with his response, Jackson heads back down the hall; he peeks in on Sabrina to give her a message and continues on to his kitchen to prepare breakfast and start his day.

Jackson sits at the table, takes in the day, and suddenly the doorbell rings.

The Perspective Part I: Jackson

Every morning I stumble out of bed, throw on my bathrobe, and go through my daily routine. Before heading to the kitchen for breakfast, I like to open up just about all of the curtains in the entire house, starting with my bedroom.  I enjoy having the natural light liven up the place. After I brush my teeth and shave, I head down the hall to check on Sabrina, my new visitor occupying my guest room. 

“Knock! Knock! Good morning Sabrina, how are you today?”

I make sure to open her curtains as I continue our conversation.

“It’s such a beautiful day, Sabrina. Oh! and did you see the new carpet I installed for you?”

 I sit beside her while simultaneously admiring her shocking gaze and running my fingers through her hair.

 I check my watch, and its almost 7am.

“Look at that, almost time for breakfast. I’ll check in with you later,” I say as I walk out the door and close it behind me.

Before I can eat, I have to check my emails, so I head down to my office. This is the only room where I keep the curtains closed. The computer light is all I need. It creates a tunnel effect for me, and I can get so much work done that way. Some days I am working here for hours on end, but luckily this morning, I just had to send a quick but crucial email that would take me less than 5 minutes.

Finally, 7am is here, and I make my way back down the hall. I peak in on Sabrina, she still has not moved, and I continue to the kitchen to prepare my breakfast and start my day.

“It’s going to be a good day,” I say to myself as I enjoy my breakfast.

But today was different. Today felt different. I knew it was going to be a good day from the second, my doorbell rang.

Trademarks and Social Media Movements: #BlackGirlMagic

Originally featured on Funderburg Law website.

In April, I scrolled through my Instagram timeline and noticed a follower I had never seen before. When I clicked on the unfamiliar name, ​@sellflove_​, the page had one photo which made me a little suspicious. But I looked a bit closer, and I quickly realized that it was my cousin Nadia. She started posting pictures amid my discovery, and I started seeing all these cute sunglasses, earring, and t-shirts with the distinct logo of “SellfLove.”

Instagram: @sellflove_

My immediate thought was, I need those glasses! (I bought them asap!) But then it hit me, my cousin started her own business and used the community she had already built on her social media to establish and promote it. We eventually had a phone conversation, and she told me something I never would’ve thought to do. Before she ever went live with her ​SellfLove™ website, she filed an application to register for a federal trademark. Nadia was savvy enough to know and understand the importance of protecting her business and her brand before she ever even made a dime from ​#sellflove​.

Image via Pxhere

To give you an idea of the importance of federal trademark protection, let’s explore the controversy behind #BlackGirlMagic. In 2013, via Twitter, CaShawn Thompson coined the term initially as #BlackGirlsAreMagic and used it as a social movement to spark a discussion around black women and girls. At the time, Thompson had no idea how far and fast the phrase would catch on.

Eventually, Thompson realized its potential and started to sell t-shirts with the words “Black Girls are Magic” and had notable celebrities wearing them. This is a perfect example of learning how to monetize from your own ideas or concepts. But what Thompson failed to do was register “Black Girl Magic” as a trademark. Doing so would’ve allowed her to legally own what she had created; instead, she lost that right and her brand along with it.

Actress Amandla Stenberg wearing a Black Girls are Magic hoodie. Photograph: ​Instagram

In August 2014, Beverly A. Bond, the founder of Black Girls Rock!, registered her application for a trademark of “Black Girl Magic” as the first use in commerce claim, but later abandoned her application in October 2016. Before that, in February 2016, she filed her application to trademark “Black Girl Magic” with the intent to use the term as a service mark for creating and developing concepts for television.

The following month, Essence Magazine applied for the use of “Essence Black Girl Magic” with the intent to use the term as a service mark for educational and entertainment purposes. Essence challenged Bond’s claim to “Black Girl Magic” citing that she was not the originator, nor should she be able to trademark the catchphrase of a social movement.

CaShawn Thompson. Photograph: Melanie Magdalen on Unsplash

What made this Essence vs. Bond dispute unfortunate is that the originator of “Black Girl Magic, Thompson, held no claim to what she created, something that she gave life to and watch grow was, legally, not hers. There was no mention of her being credited from either side of the legal battle, and she was never even made aware of the controversy during its proceedings.

In the end, Bond ended up with the service mark rights to Black Girl Magic, Essence’s application is dead in the system, and Thompson, who has since trademarked “Black Girls Are… Magic”, has learned a valuable lesson about brand protection.

To register for a federal trademark application visit​ ​​ and be sure to carefully read through the instructions of the application process and contact a trademark attorney for further questions. The cost to file is between $275-$375 for each class of goods or services you wish to provide. That cost may be a bit steep, but the cost of losing your business or brand can be even steeper. CaShawn Thompson learned this lesson the hard way, my cousin Nadia, thankfully doesn’t have to, and neither should you.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT legal advice and your reading or engaging with this blog does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult our office if you require an attorney or need further legal assistance. Enjoy reading!

Originally featured on Funderburg Law website.

Waiting For May 18th…

Earning a degree is more than just about earning a piece of paper. The blood sweat and tears college students put in every year to reach the pinnacle moment of graduation is the ultimate achievement.

On May 18, I was supposed to have that moment. My journey through college is not a traditional one, so crossing the stage is a long-awaited milestone for my academic career. Now that moment has been taken away from not only me but also every graduating class of 2020 across the country.

The academic finish line was once so clear. Now it has become a blur along with a gray area of endless uncertainty mixed with fear as most things have become surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

I graduated from high school in 2005 and was a college drop out by the summer of 2006. I had no clue what I was doing in college or why I was there. I just went through the motions of a life others wanted and expected from me.          

I eventually stumbled into a California Army National Guard recruiting station in 2007 and spent the next nine years proudly serving my country with the 185th Military Police Battalion.

My time in the service gave me the confidence and the focus I needed to go back to school and to successfully reach this juncture in my academic career, and then suddenly, the world stopped spinning.

I do not think I have seen the world stop like this since the twin towers fell. I was 14 years old at the time, weeks into my freshman year of high school, too young to understand the gravity of the situation.

Here we are again, the world at a standstill, but I am now a 32-year-old mother, Starbucks supervisor, and a college senior attending Clark Atlanta University, weeks away from graduating. I recall having to crowd around the television with my classmates the morning of 9/11, and together, we watched the details unfold. COVID-19 has us isolated, adhering to social distancing practices as we follow the details from our cell phones, tablets and laptops. The way technology has evolved seems too convenient for this scenario.

On the evening of March 12, I sat alone on my couch, watching the 6 o’clock news about the COVID-19 updates. Suddenly, reports came in that CAU was closed for the remainder of the semester, classes will be converting online after an extended week of spring break, and graduation had been postponed.

After a rough start to the beginning of my last semester, I could not be more excited to go on spring break and fill the vacancy of my school days with nothingness. That nothingness felt like a black hole after that newscast.

I am not selfish, I completely understood the necessity and the safety precautions the Atlanta University Center Consortium was taking, but I broke down in tears.

There were so many emotions felt at that moment: Anger, sadness, fear, doubt and frustration. Spring break had just started, but my official last day of being a CAU student was March 13, the day I took my last midterm. My heart broke at that realization.

I spent the remainder of my extended spring break working since my Starbucks location had not closed. As the weeks went by, only essential businesses were allowed to stay open, though challenging as it turned out to be, I was grateful I was able to continue to work.

The transition to online learning was not all that great. Of my five classes, only one of my professors held Zoom class meetings. My other classes the professors just updated the syllabus and gave out dates for when assignments were due, pretty much forcing my classmates and me to figure it out on our own. It was slightly disappointing, but we just assumed the professor either could not work Zoom or just did not want to since dates were given for when assignments were due.

Since school was online now, and I only had one class that met online Tuesdays and Thursdays, I was able to work more hours during the week and get out of the house to decompress.

The decompression was short-lived as more employees decided they wanted to take Starbucks’ option of opting out of work until May 3. So, for the last month, our store hours have changed at least three times, our drive-through line is insane since we are the only Starbucks open now within a 25-mile radius, and customers are projecting their frustrations on us every day. It is a frustrating time for all of us, and my team and I are doing our best to serve our community.

I thought about opting out as well. Starbucks will continue to pay us whether we choose to work or not but seeing my regular customers and being around my coworkers helps to take my mind off of the craziness and uncertainty surrounding this pandemic.

It has been even more difficult working and trying to get assignments done while everyone is home. I did the majority of my work sitting in front of the Woodi Café inside the school’s library. Now I have to wait until everyone is sleep for me to get anything done. My shift begins at 4:30 a.m., so I would either stay up all night doing my homework and then go to work or suffer through the day with distractions.

 I often think about how my academic peers are getting through the remainder of the semester. I did not stay on campus, so not much changed other than not having to commute to Atlanta every day, though I am grateful to have saved so much money on gas.

But for my peers, the majority of them being traditional students and growing into adulthood on campus, I imagine life for them to be a bit more difficult right now, especially the seniors. The bonds they have built over the last four years still had more college life to add. For that to be taken away from them, is a different type of pain that I will never understand, I can only empathize.

I am thankful and fortunate to have lived a life in the real world and had a career before attending college my second time around. My understanding of the world is entirely different from theirs. I understand the necessity for change, no matter how drastic or sudden it may be. That is something only life can teach you.

 All I can do now is continue to work for however long I am allowed and finish the remainder of the semester online. It is the only way I know to do my part to help the world achieve whatever our new normal way of life will be when the virus is either contained or, hopefully, eradicated.

Meanwhile, the disappointment of May 18 will remain heavy on my heart and mind. To be honest, crossing the stage was not for me; it was for my mother and, most importantly, for my daughter to witness. I wanted so badly for my baby girl to see her mommy cross that finish line so she can see what is possible.

 The following day will be her fourth birthday, and we were supposed to spend the week celebrating her life and my academic achievements at the happiest place on earth, Disney World, but it is closed. So now, both achievements will be celebrated at home, social distancing from our neighbors, and self-quarantining.

Rest. Wander. Understand.

As I quest for self realization and journey into the deep, I seem to find more answers in my sleep.

This must be why the devil tries to keep me awake, to shield me from truths he cannot take.

The body needs rest and the spirit needs to wander so the mind can understand.

Everything is connected, I to you and you to me, as part of the plan.

If you fail to comprehend these words that seep, the devil must also be depriving you of sleep.


The love I have for you comes attached with the pain you caused. I now understand that time doesn’t heal wounds; it just makes them hurt a lot less.

But that pain you caused manifested into hate, then one day I realized that hating you was hurting nobody but me. So, I chose to forgive. First, I forgave myself for the blame and guilt I placed over my head when the only thing I did wrong was love you. Then, I forgave you for putting me through hell, watching me cry and scream as the flames engulfed me.

I wanted you to feel the pain I felt so damn bad. I used to stay up late at night, trying to conjure different scenarios of how I could accomplish my goal. But I knew that was the hate within me, turning my insides to dark matter, attempting to scratch the surface of my soul.

So, I let it go.

I was able to breathe without the tightness in my chest, no more sleepless nights, and I was able to genuinely smile again.

I had moved on.

Now, you’ve learned and understood the error of your ways and how your actions have created your own hell, equivalent to the one you left me to endure. The flames grow the more you comprehend what you’ve done and believe it or not, it hurts me to watch as you cry and scream my name in your inferno.

Enjoy your fiery pit of embarrassment and shame as the air burns every breathe you take. Bask in embers that crack and boil the chambers of your heart. Trying to run now, will only make things worse.

Don’t try reaching out for me now. That rubble of ash I was left to brush off made me strong enough to know that I can love you and also watch you suffer. I’d be a damn fool to walk with you into the hell you created for yourself.

Burn Slow.

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