Author: CJ Normalized

January 2, 2020


When the Me Too movement became a national story, my first thought was, “have I done anything that could get me caught up in this?”  I admit, it was more of a sarcastic response than a fearful one. There was a part of me that felt the movement was an attack on men for just being men.  I mean if I’m drunk at a party and a woman is drunk at the same party and we hook up; why are my drunk actions held more accountable than hers?

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January 2, 2020


One day, when I was about 14 years old I was parading around the mall with some of my friends.  I remember seeing an interracial couple and commenting how I could never date the opposite race.  At that time, I hadn’t ever had a real girlfriend so what did I even know?  But what was it about seeing an interracial couple – which was a very common thing growing up in the D.C. area – that made me feel this way?

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January 2, 2020

Episode 13: COME CLEAN

“When you have a problem see it as an opportunity to grow.”

– Anonymous

That is pretty much how my podcast began. I had a problem, a problem of not being productive with my downtime. Actually, it was worse than that. During my downtime, all I was doing was partying and drinking and that’s not good – especially when you’re an alcoholic. So I wasn’t just not productive but I was destroying everything around me including my family, relationships, jobs and myself. So, at the encouragement of my therapist I decided to get a hobby. That hobby was the Normalized Podcast.

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January 2, 2020

Episode 17: THE BRAVE

One of the best  sayings I’ve ever heard was, “expectations are future resentments.”  To some this may appear as a very cynical. Think about it, if you don’t expect anything from people then you don’t have to worry about being hurt or let down by them.  On its face, I’d agree it is very cynical; however, if you dig a little deeper i believe it’s more about accepting life on life’s terms. It’s never good when you allow others to control your emotions.

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November 13, 2018

Goucher College – GPEP

I had the privilege of speaking to students at the MD Dept of Corrections – Jessup a maximum security prison. Yes these are inmates earning degrees from Goucher College as part of their Prison Education Partnership (GPEP) program. The class was Black Psychology. For 2.5 hours I was able to talk with 24 students who are trying to better their lives even though some may never be released.

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September 13, 2018

Speaking His Truth; One Episode at a Time

Melanated Fathers of America

Have you ever asked yourself, what’s normal? Living in a society that’s so consumed with labels and stereotypes can make you second guess what you believe to be true.

For many people, the unwarranted pressures to fit in can lead to many destructive behaviors.

Creating an outlet to express yourself can do a lot for your confidence, as well as your self-esteem.

That was exactly the case for our Spotlight father of the week, CJ from the Normalized podcast, during our interview we were able to discuss his feelings about his father not being around much, his battle with alcoholism, his relationship with his daughters and much more!!!!

February 16, 2018

Episode 12: THE ANGER

I’ll never forget how I went to bed the night of November 8, 2016. My wife and I had allowed our five-year-old daughter to stay up with us to watch the first woman to ever be elected President of the United States.

I knew my daughter wouldn’t understand how significant the accomplishment was, but I knew it would be important for her to see it nonetheless. I wanted her to watch it with my wife and for them to hold each other as history was made.

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December 2, 2017

The Conversation: Weekly Wrap-Up Podcast

Had a wonderful time speaking with J Cleveland Payne from The Conversation. The interview starts at about 18 mins in but I suggest you listen to the whole show. Mr. Payne is the consummate professional with an insightful and entertaining show. If you like it share it.

Listen to “Weekly Wrap-Up Podcast – 12/2/2017” on Spreaker.

November 11, 2017

Stevenson University: Back to School

Had a wonderful time speaking with students at Stevenson University. They are smart, thoughtful, and honest. next, I’ll be at my alma mater, Towson University.

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November 6, 2017


I was recently out with other contractors in a predominately-black, working-class neighborhood of West Baltimore assessing a potential development site. The contractors were white architects who have worked in similar neighborhoods before. On two separate occasions while taking pictures of the site, we were approached by people concerned with our actions.

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October 13, 2017

From The Canopy

Shout out to an old friend Cory Rashad, who’s the host of From The Canopy Podcast. I was a guest on his show and had a blast. It’s a chance to get a different side of me – not too serious. Also, check his podcast out. It’s an easy listen, sneaky intelligent.

July 6, 2017

Episode 10: Redshift

My daughters have a very different childhood than I did. My goal often times has been to give them everything I never had. Because of this, they enjoy an abundance of material items that I never did. But that comes at a cost; when am I giving them too much? Sometimes I wonder will they think everyone in the world has similar lives. Will they be oblivious to the struggles of so many and become cold, callous people with no moral compass?

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July 1, 2017

Episode 9: Chuck is Disgruntled

I started my professional career right after college and I immediately recognized in my industry of planning and engineering, African Americans were far and few between. In a city like Baltimore where over 60% of the population is African American I’d think we’d make up more than the handful of professionals I know. On average, I don’t think any of my jobs ever had larger than a 15% rate of African Americans employed in that office.

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June 29, 2017

Episode 8: Lamar Odom

A few years ago when Lamar Odom famously was found unconscious and almost dead at a bunny-ranch outside of Las Vegas, I remember the media response was brutal. As reports rolled in, most of the stories dealt with the hard facts but as the days wore on, the commentary piled on. Much of what I remember hearing revolved around Lamar being “so stupid.” I mean he’s filthy rich, plays professional basketball and was married to a Kardashian (well the last part may suck but you get what I’m saying).

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May 29, 2017

Episode 7: Me and the Cops

Not too long ago I was sitting at a picnic table outside of my daughter’s gymnastic practice in suburban Maryland. As I sat there with my headphones on and hoodie up, I began to wonder, am I being smart? I mean let’s be honest; I’m a black man sitting outside with my hoodie up minding my business, but to a lot of people this is seen as a threat or suspect.

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April 29, 2017

Episode 6: Choices

Every day we make decisions that have short and long-term consequences. Often times when you’re in the heat of the moment, the choices you believe you have can be clouded by emotions. This is the realty that so many of us deal with when an unexpected pregnancy occurs. When I was 18 I got my girlfriend pregnant and I wanted the child (I feel she did too). During this time, I was young and wasn’t sure where I was headed, so having a child seemed both meaningful and purposeful. My girlfriend; however, was not 18 and an abortion was forced on us by her parent. Years later I went off to college and I saw opportunities I never knew existed.

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April 15, 2017

Episode 4/5: Acceptance Pt 1/2

So there are two ways I look at acceptance. The first way is when I want something to be accepted. Maybe I’m buying a house and want my offer to be accepted. Or maybe I made a mistake and want my wife to accept my apology. The second way I look at acceptance is the exact opposite of the first. Instead of offering something in hopes of it being accepted, I’m accepting or receiving something. Maybe I’m accepting a gift from a friend. Maybe I’m accepting something about myself.

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March 24, 2017

Episode 3: The Lesson

After recently watching my 4-year-old daughter playing soccer, I realized the best lesson I’ve learned from growing up without my father was how to be a father. My father left when I was around three. I grew up with my mom and older brother. I also have a younger brother who grew up with my father; he and I share different mothers. I don’t fully know or understand the views my brothers have of our father; however, my experiences are a blend of love, miss-trust, anger and resentment.

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March 23, 2017

Episode 2: Conflicts

To better understand my racial insecurities I explore my childhood years in Germantown, MD where I grew up with my mom and older brother. Life was pretty “normal” for me until three significant events changed my understanding of normal. First, around the age of 12 my mom lost her job and from that point on holding down a steady job became an ongoing battle. Shortly after my mom lost her job, my older brother moved to Atlanta removing the one person not scared to check me on my bullshit. Finally, my mom made the decision to remove me from my zoned school and place me in a better school in a more affluent area.

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March 22, 2017

Episode 1: You Sound White

During my first semester at Towson University I experienced two drastically different situations involving my race. I had a very strong will to succeed while at college and that led me to constantly participate during classroom discussions. One night, while in a dorm room talking with two female black students, one of the girls recognized my voice and asked if I was in her Mass Comm class. The class had stadium seating and therefore she never actually got a chance to put a face to a voice. When I responded yes, she replied, “I thought you were white.”

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