Shortly after I bought a Cadillac, I ran into an old friend. To me, I just bought a little SUV that cradled my screwed-up hip and empowered me to communicate hands-free in Atlanta’s mind-bending traffic. The old friend checked out my new ride and then said, “I’m surprised you bought that. Cadillacs are for black people.”

It was one of those moments that renders you momentarily speechless; and then just as the opportunity passes, you think of ten clever responses. As my friend Phillip Todd often says, “Dammit Tara Belle!”

Many weeks later I was at lunch with my passionate, treasure of a friend Fred. Fred is an African-American man. I told him about bumping into the old friend and what she said about Cadillacs. He replied first by telling me to tell the woman where she could go and how to get there. But then,

Fred told me that she was right. He asked, “Do you know the history of Cadillacs and black people?”

I thought he was going to credit Sugar Ray Robinson or Aretha Franklin and the pink Cadillac.

I thought wrong. He told me that there was a time when no luxury brands would sell to the African-American population. The only way for a person of color to drive a luxury brand was to pay a white man to buy it for them. But in the 1930’s, Cadillac became the first luxury brand to change that policy and sell to people of any color.

Fred sat back against the booth seat, sipped his ice water, and said, “And that, Tara Heaton… the origin of why you see so many brothers in Cadillacs.”

Fred has a way of pulling historical facts out of his head no matter the topic. So, this response didn’t surprise me. But it intrigued me. I wanted to learn more. I discovered more to the story here.

I now stand a little taller when I step out of my XT4. I think about Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Tarana Burke, and Jaha Dukureh. I stand taller still.

Reading that history made me wish I could drive a loud, proud, pink Cadillac without selling lipstick for a living. But more importantly, it was that “Dammit Tara Belle moment” that reinforced the power of my work as a communication consultant and message crafter.

The power of our tongue inspired today’s
Talk to the Brain™ Tip:

Words matter.

With only six syllables, my perspective of one woman is forever altered. I can never erase that comment from my mind. One statement told me too much of who she is.

Words have power.

Words can build trust, create love, and offer hope.

Words can destroy faith, tarnish a spirit, and cause a war.

The words we choose tell the world who we are.

Choose carefully.

With love and cheers,

P.S. Take ten minutes and enjoy my favorite talk on the power of words. Toastmaster World Champion Mohammed Qahtani is En Pointe!

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