This blog first appeared on O' as Thank You Langston Hughes

“What happens to a dream deferred?” asks Langston Hughes:

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore –

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over –

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

O does it explode? (268)

“Harlem:” one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite authors. I admire Hughes's use of simile to create imagery in asking what seems a rhetorical question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” Yet, he dares to ponder it, and so should we.

Thank you, Mr. Hughes, for comparing deferring our dreams to such unappealing, unattractive, unpleasant, unsavory, and just plain unwanted images – a dry, sun-cooked raisin; a festering sore; odorous rotten meat, crusty treats, and saggy loads - and forcing us to reflect on our dreams. Such vivid imagery calls us to see deferring our dreams as something bothersome, even burdensome; and this is especially important in 2021, amidst a socioeconomic trend current media calls “The Great Resignation,” where people are resigning their jobs in record numbers as indicative of the major lifestyle changes in our current COVID-19-epidemic-conscious climate (Fox). Penned just over 50 years ago, the four seemingly rhetorical questions Hughes asks challenge us, perhaps, to adjust our perspective: to see our dreams not as dry, but firm; not as festering, but in need of care; not as rotten, but ripe; and not as crusty, but as ready to realize; and here are some tips to help you along your journey:

1) Acknowledge the dream! We all have a dream or aspiration – a certain job or career, spouse/partner, or activity; what’s yours?

2) Articulate the dream! Write it, and make it plain for you and for Spirit.

3) Let it explode! Let it out; follow your dream.

4) Allow Spirit to lead you! Be quiet, seek clarity, and embrace the process.

5) Pay it forward! Your journey to achieving you dream is your testimony; share it, and inspire others, just as Spirit is inspiring you by placing the dream in your heart in the first place.

Now, as we blast into 2022, may the questions Hughes asked us over 50 years ago take root in our hearts, and may all our dreams come true!


Fox, Michelle. “Another ‘Great Resignation’ Wave Is Coming in January, MUSE CEO says: Here’s How to Prepare.” CNBC. 27 December 2021. Accessed December 27, 2021.

Hughes, Langston. “Harlem.” Selected Poems: Langston Hughes. New York: Vintage Books, 1974. Print.

Dr. Ondra Dismukes is an Assistant Professor of English at Georgia Military College, where she teaches courses in American Literature, World Literature, First-Year Composition, and Learning Support Services English. She's the Editor in Chief for The Linguistique Mystique Ezine

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Danecka Randolph has been busy since gracing the pages of our inaugural issue. As a healthcare worker, Mrs. Randolph is not merely surviving during COVID; indeed, she is thriving and helping others to thrive, as well! Let's read the rest of Jay L. Harris's interview with our Front Line Chic to see what keeps her motivated:

JLH: Share some of your recent success stories.

DR: In 2020, I led my team in successfully navigating system accreditation surveys during a pandemic to achieve a record low number of nonconformities based on a set of standards aimed at improving the quality of care for the patients we serve. This year was quite different for our team because it significantly destabilized our usual departmental support platforms. We had to learn to coordinate surveys using a virtual platform and with less staffing due to staff redeployments to frontline care. We had an amazing survey year, and I could not be more proud of my team!

JLH: We see you have multiple degrees. How has your education helped you over the years? Has there ever been a time when you felt your education was a hindrance?

DR: My education has never been a hindrance for me. In fact, it has afforded me the opportunity to advance in nursing leadership and to lead the accreditation program for each of the hospitals in our health system.

JLH: Who is your spirit animal?

DR: My spirit animal is probably my best friend. We are alike in so many ways but are also very different. She loves to be in the moment and also relies heavily on her faith. She loves to make others laugh and is one of the most easy-going people I know. I look up to her because she is always able to find something positive about most things in life.

JLH: What is/are your guilty pleasure(s)?

DR: Chocolate, wine, and delicious foods are all my guilty pleasures!

JLH: If you could ask any iconic woman of your choice 1 question, who would that be, and what would you ask?

DR: I would ask Michelle Obama how she has been able to maintain her professionalism and sanity despite being constantly attacked as she raised the bar as the country’s first African American first lady.

To learn more about Danecka Randolph, read our Who's That Chic issue of Pretty Smart Chics

Pretty Smart Chics, Brown skinned Black Woman
Jay L Harris, MBA

Jacqueline Harris is the writer, author, blogger known as Jay L Harris. She's earned a degree in History from Valdosta State University & an MBA from Strayer University. Her tagline, "Church Girl With a Dirty Mind", sums up her sense of humor & her spiritual beliefs from her Southern upbringing. Her mission is to help Xennial women from around the world to tap back into their imagination in order to create a life full of joy & freedom.

Connect with Jay L


Facebook Group: PrettySmartChic

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Black female entrepreneur
Valaurie B Lee-CEO VB Consulting

Since gracing the pages of our inaugural issue of Pretty Smart Chics, our staff has referred to Valaurie Lee as the Chic who bought the block! Yes, folks, Valaurie owns a boutique property in College Park, Georgia. People often overlook Valaurie's dedication to her spiritual and physical wellbeing which is the key to her professional success. Let's learn more about Valaurie!

OD: What advice do you have for other black women entrepreneurs?

VBL: I have so much advice; but what I encourage all young entrepreneurs to do, especially women of color, is to make sure you have your business in order. What I mean by that is to stay on top of your finances and your credit. There are so many funding sources available to entrepreneurs and small business owners out there, but your finances need to be healthy to access it. I am blessed to have successfully scaled my business because of the strength of my finances. I have accessed capital at competitive rates because I've always ensured that my accounts are on point! As small business owners, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of every opportunity out there.

OD: What has been the most difficult challenge you've overcame as a black female entrepreneur in IT?

VBL: The most difficult challenge I've faced--aside from actually starting my business--is fighting for its survival during the pandemic. We've experienced so much adversity and challenge under COVID, and it has been taxing personally and professionally. Our revenue drop, my staff lost family and friends, and I personally struggled with health issues while managing several businesses.

OD: How has your spiritual journey affected your professional growth?

VBL: I would say that my spiritual journey is responsible for my professional growth. I would not be where I am were it not for my relationship with God. All that I am and all that I do is because of Him. Without His guidance, favor, and love, I simply would not have what I have or be able to do what I do.


OD: Amen to that! What is your vision for the Wellness Spot?

VBL: My vision for TWS is so simple, and the name says it all--it is a place for people to be well. I want it to be a place for people to rest, relax, and restore themselves by practicing self-care. We offer an impressive array of fitness classes and spa services to clientele who want a place to call their own.

OD: Why was it important to create “The Basement” for budding entrepreneurs?

VBL: Offering entrepreneurs the space they need to create is essential. So many businesses end prematurely due to a lack of resources and opportunities. The Basement, PopShopolis, is my way of supporting entrepreneurs by providing a low-cost venue for them to host popup shops that offer the exposure they need to grow their business.

OD: What makes you a Pretty Smart Chic?

VBL: I'm a Pretty Smart Chic because I am constantly seeking new opportunities to learn. Before I returned to school to get my Ph.D., I invested in taking classes to keep me sharp. When not taking classes, I was attending conferences to build my network and skills. In between attending conferences, I read anything that gave me a competitive edge. My advice to others is to never stop learning. When you do, you stop growing.


OD: I agree with that last statement wholeheartedly. How do you balance your spiritual, professional, and personal life?

VBL: I'll be honest with you; it's a challenge. I am so driven and ambitious that balance is often elusive. What I can say, I make time for prayer often, and it keeps me grounded. I pray with my daughters, close friends, and church members to maintain a close connection with God. More than anything, prayer keeps me focused on things that are important to me. It is the driving force behind me.

Learn more about Valaurie B. Lee in our latest issue at

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