My Point of View

When I was the Woman’s Editor and Managing Editor of the New York Beacon Newspaper, I created a 7-page pull-out section in the weekly paper titled WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN – designated to honor African American women on the move.

As a personal feature in the section, I posted PONDER THIS! – my thoughts and a few words of motivation in a box inside the cover page. I received many letters from readers throughout the years who shared their thoughts in return.

What began as a box in 1992, soon became a full page article encouraging readers to simply THINK.  Those articles ran every week to the date of my retirement from the New York Beacon News in 2002.

Since that time, I have continued to submit PONDER THIS! periodically as a Contributing Scribe to the New York Beacon and since 2014 as a weekly Columnist for the Harlem Community News, Inc.

I hope you will follow my writings of PONDER THIS! and other feature articles that I submit to both publications.  The New York Beacon is available by subscription and on newsstands.  The Harlem Community News is a FREE publication available at numerous locations throughout Harlem, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.  (Subscription is available as well)

I ask you to support the Black Press.  I invite you to peruse a few PONDER THIS! articles below.

To Mask Up or Not
By Hazel Rosetta Smith

We have shared our stories of the COVID-19 shut in and shut down experiences, both good and bad.  Some people have lost their businesses, while others have, thank God, skated through with little lost.  Most of us have fought the good fight and found new incentives that opened our eyes to reimagining our prior commitments and reinventing old endeavors.

If there is one thing that was once considered to be the ultimate across the board partnership, it was and continues to be – the wearing of the mask. I remember how quickly we accepted the early mandates to wear a mask as a life-or-death necessity and no questions were asked because we were all striving to survive.

As months passed. homemade masks became fashionista accessories in fabulous colors.  Creative folk put together colorful afrocentric fabric, others put words of humor and inspiration boldly displayed for all to see.  Those specialty masks made us smile beneath our own masks as we passed others and caught their eye.

I have recently been asking myself several questions about masking up.  It is quite mind boggling to realize how the mask has become so embedded in my consciousness that I am functioning under automatic pilot?  I do not answer my doorbell without grabbing a mask, and I will not go shopping without it, my mask has become as important as my wallet.  I do not have to think about it, I just wear it.

I had asked myself often enough, when will I be comfortable enough to give my face a full coming out in the presence of others.  I went to lunch with a friend and yes, we are both vaccinated.  I was out, but it was the first time I was willing to sit inside a restaurant.   After we placed our lunch order, we both removed our masks as if it were time to take the step.  We did not discuss it, somehow it just happened.  We talked, we ate, and the outing was so wonderful, I felt like a child eating out in a restaurant for the first time.  As we stepped outside after our joyful dining, both of us redressed in our mask décor like a uniform and no words were exchanged regarding it.

The following week, I decided to venture out to the park for a Juneteenth celebration, accepting the mayor’s invitation.  Arriving with my mask intact, I was greeted by many people who I had not seen since COVID came to town. We began falling into the old familiar meet and greet of hugging.  This became quite the conundrum and concern for me.  My mind was spinning.  Do I hug those who are not wearing a mask and pretend I am alright with that, even though they can clearly see I am masked?  More than that, I asked myself if I was emotionally ready to start hugging again?  Paranoia is real.

I am more assured than ever how difficult it is to break a habit.  COVID-19 taught us many lessons.  The steps we had to take in trying to sidestep getting the virus opened the door for new habits to catch hold.  Most of us had probably never washed our hands as often, scrubbed our fruits and vegetables with such vigor, or dutifully sprayed counter tops and delivery boxes as was advised.  Nobody had to tell us to avoid people, social distancing went into effect, and we didn’t really have to measure the recommended six feet.  Call it virus fear or common sense, some of us still stand appropriately apart and roll our eyes when somebody gets too close.

Now that public places and indoor spaces have reopened, many of us will have to deal with our personal anxieties.

What you choose to continue to do or not do is certainly your prerogative.  However, if we are at all concerned about the wellness of others, along with ourselves, it would behoove us to remain vigilant and mindful of the vulnerable members of our community who are in desperate need of protection from the new variants of the virus that are coming our way.  The struggle is real, vaccines are available.

If you feel more secure wearing the mask, like me, continue to practice what you know is right for you.  Do You!  Do not be deterred or disturbed by the opinions of others. Stay steady, stay carefully safe. Believe, together we will soar as never before. This too shall pass, but only when we are all willing to comply.

[Hazel Rosetta Smith, journalist, playwright, and artistic director for HSTM – Help Somebody Theatrical Ministries and HRS – Hazel Rosetta Speaks!  Retired former Woman’s Editor and Managing Editor of the New York Beacon News and current columnist for Harlem Community News, Inc.  Contact:]


How Low Will They Go?
By Hazel Rosetta Smith

Senseless killings abound wrapped in new coverings to justify how they can be overlooked or undermined.  Too often, those under the blue banner have used their power and might to take our lives with no reservation or hesitation.

Upright citizens criticized and ridiculed those declaring  “Black Lives Matter.”   The truth is that all lives matter, but when the roll call points to one group of similar hues carrying the fullness of the most inhumane treatment, it becomes more than a thing that makes you wonder.  More often a person of color will get a spot in a cemetery or a cot in a prison cell; before they get a day in court.

Most Black people have a lot to worry about.  In a blink of an eye, we can lose what little we have managed to attain in years of hard work, earned pensions, social security, and healthcare coverage. With congressional and senatorial factions caught up in face to face bouts of insults and negative rhetoric spewed from a leader with low morals and acute shortness of empathy, we  wonder how low the government will go.  We remember the words spoken by First Lady Michelle Obama, “when they go low, we go high.”  Those words were shared publicly in 2017, today we wonder how low we can let them go, as their actions play out like a reality show.

We have witnessed three years of nitwit commentary toward everything and everybody.  Some Americans are in utter shock and others are in awe. The laws of the nation are ignored and stalled as the process to take the highest seat in the land moves along with full-blown blatant ignorance revealed for the world to see.

Along with who we will vote for, we now have concerns about how to get the vote in, to the poll or to the post office.  We, the people have to make a determination to vote under any means necessary.

America is divided in need, indeed.  The COVID-19 virus has shut in the people, and shut down parts of every state, dismantling daily businesses.  With reverence for the sanctity of safety, respect for human life and gratitude for survivorship, let there be order and let it begin with each of us.

Gather up your natural resources and hang tough in the rough.  We cannot allow anyone to put their shackles of bondage on our aspirations of a future that is our rightful place as citizens.

There is no time to waste in thoughtless procrastination.  When the doors reopen and they surely will, we must be ready to grab whole of every opportunity.  Do not allow your mind to be filled with needless smut for amusement’s sake.  What happens next is a decision we must make individually to enhance the possibility of our community surviving collectively.  We must be in it to win it and make no mistake, the race has already begun in the new normal on the new horizon that is just a breath away.

[Hazel Rosetta Smith is a journalist, playwright, and artistic director for HSTM Help Somebody Theatrical Ministries and HRS Hazel Rosetta Speaks! She is a retired former Managing Editor & Woman’s Editor of the New York Beacon News and current columnist for Harlem Community News, Inc.  Contact:]


What We Think Matters
By Hazel Rosetta Smith

Every thought creates something.  Thinking is not something we choose to do; it is as natural as breathing and as consistent as automatic pilot.  On our own, we cannot cease from doing either no matter how hard we try.  What we think about is the crux of it.

Our brain was created to be the command center, headquarters of the thought processor of the body.  When the brain is functioning properly, it transmits either a GO or NO instruction that activates a chain reaction to engage the gears of this profound locomotive, that is our body.

Even when we are at rest as we know it, the commands are still coming forth.  From the outer skin to the deepest bone, to the blood cascading from the pumping of the heart, every organ, muscle, artery and joint knows its duty.   We are wonderfully created.

However, the body remains a puzzle to the trained medical minds and scientists.  If there is a weak link anywhere within, it is that we are not diligent in our focus on good health and wellness.  I believe it is because of what we bring to the plate, no pun implied, but we are weak to our intake, and we do know better.   We ingest to appease our appetite and then in hindsight, we ask, what was I thinking?  I believe our thoughts can either make us or break us.

Let’s be real.  It’s not easy to think positive all the time.  We are engulfed by frustration, our own and others.  We are embedded in deadly daily news on the screen, in our face, twenty-four hours a day.  Now, we can receive urgent alerts and broadcasts on smartphones under the tunnels of the city via Wi-Fi.   There is no rest for the weary.  We are warned by the NYPD not to shut our eyes or snatch a nap on the subway since recent incidents of face slashing.

Harlem’s Poet Laureate,  Langston Hughes wrote, “I don’t dare start thinking in the morning, if I thought thoughts in bed, them thoughts would bust my head, so I don’t dare start thinking in the morning.”   Such words warn that there are thoughts you can have upon awakening that will set the remote control of your mind to a channel that will determine how your day will be before it begins.  The kind of thinking that can promote a meltdown or a complete shutdown.

You wish you didn’t have to get out of bed, dread the subway, hate the job, resent the boss, and barely tolerate the other workers who don’t acknowledge your presence anyway.  How can you expect anything other than what you have thought into existence?    Perhaps things are not what they appear to be?  Maybe you are not who you think you are?  Maybe your negative brand is what others see?

Surely you don’t want to wake up and discover you can’t physically get up; the trains are reportedly not running on schedule, and you have already been late too many days.  Then the phone rings and that boss you talk bad about is calling to say you are fired.   What then?  Dark thoughts just might conjure up stuff you really don’t want to think about.

Choose to think about the sunny side of things.  Live in an attitude of gratitude, love with all your heart and be happy, just because.   Think about performing at your personal best in all that you do.  Acknowledge the good in others.  Give positive thinking a try, you just might surprise yourself.

[Hazel Rosetta Smith is a journalist, playwright, and director with Help Somebody Theatrical Ministries and HRS Hazel Rosetta Speaks!  Retired former Women’s Editor and Managing Editor of the New York Beacon News and current columnist for Harlem Community News, Inc.  Contact:]