Thanksgiving 2018: Why We Are Grateful

While some of the nation is celebrating the pilgrims surviving in the U.S., most Black people are just thankful to be in the land of the living one more day. As we gather with family and friends over plates filled with special foods, officially kicking off the holiday season, we thought it was a good time to scan Chicagoans and ask: for what are you grateful? As you read what others have to say, we hope you will take the time and reflect on your own life and recite some of the things that make you thankful this season.
Here are some quotes from local celebs and hometown icons. We also share some tips on surviving the holidays—‘cause we know it’s not all love and good feelings for everyone.
For What Are You Grateful?

Dr. Ian Smith

Dr. Ian Smith
Author, Physician, and TV Personality Dr. Ian Smith has the no. 1 New York Times Bestsellers SHRED: THE REVOLUTIONARY DIET, and SUPER SHRED: The Big Results Diet. He is a co-host of the Emmy winning daytime talk show, The Doctors. He also served as the medical/diet expert for six seasons on VH1’s highly-rated Celebrity Fit Club and is the creator and founder of The 50 Million Pound Challenge and The Makeover Mile. President Obama also appointed him to a second term on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Dr. Smith is a medical contributor on the nationally syndicated television show “Rachael Ray,” and the host of his own nationally syndicated radio show “HealthWatch” on American Urban Radio Networks.
He has recently released his latest novel The Ancient Nine. It’s a thriller based on Harvard’s secret societies. No one has ever written a book about these centuries-old clubs and the secrets behind their doors.
“I am grateful for a wonderful, vigorous, family that loves and supports me despite my flaws and inspires me on a daily basis to keep dreaming big and living life with the greatest of passion.”

Jeanne Sparrow/photo by Brandon Dahlquist

Jeanne Sparrow
Jeanne Sparrow is the owner/founder of The Spoken Bird, Inc. & WVAZ (V103) weekend/fill-in host who has spent three decades in media as an Emmy-winning television host, reporter, and radio personality.  Jeanne’s career started completely by accident, but it continues on purpose… thanks to good fortune and blessings, hard work at strange hours and an abiding commitment to the joy of telling other people’s stories and helping them bring their words to life.
Jeanne’s first television appearance was in 1996, covering crowd reaction at the Bud Billiken Back-to-School Parade.
Since then, she has worked as a reporter covering arts, entertainment, lifestyle and traffic and has hosted several entertainment, arts, public affairs and cultural programs, appearing on several network affiliates, including NBC, PBS, UPN, the Big Ten Network, Comcast Network and Chicago superstation WGN, as well as on United Airlines’ in-flight programming. Most recently, she served for over seven years as one of the hosts of “You & Me,” a morning news/talk show she launched in 2009 on Chicago’s WCIU.
Currently, Jeanne is enjoying traveling, spending more time with family and friends, and her work as a communications consultant, providing training and coaching to people who want to improve their skills as public speakers and in their media appearances. She also continues to be amazed at how life changes once you no longer wake up at 2 am for work. She can be heard on V103 on Saturdays and often times throughout the week.
 2018 has been a challenging year on so many levels, and I’m thankful for that! The challenges I’ve faced have been blessings with valuable lessons and opportunities for growth. They’ve made me a better person and pushed me forward on my journey as a new entrepreneur. I’m also grateful for having good health, so much support from family and friends and the fun (and comfort) of “going back home” to radio. Happy Thanksgiving!

Lil Rel
Milton “Lil Rel” Howery is a comedian/actor/writer from Chicago’s West Side. He first appeared at The Lion’s Den on Chicago’s East Side before going on to perform and host events at some of his city’s most popular clubs and showcases. In 2001, Lil Rel appeared on BET’s “Comic View,” his first television appearance. Proving to be entertaining and business-savvy, he earned a second “Comic View” appearance and the trust of show executives on other networks. He has appeared on Bill Bellamy’s “Who Got Jokes” (TV One), Diddy’s “Bad Boys of Comedy” (HBO), and in a small role on the film Barbershop 2 (MGM Studios). He gained crossover appeal when he appeared on the hit comedy competition, “Last Comic Standing” (NBC). His strong semi-finalist finish landed him a spot on NBC’s “Diversity Showcase” and in his hometown’s second largest comedy experience, the “Just for Laughs Chicago Festival.”
His role as TSA agent Rod Williams in the Oscar-winning instant classic “Get Out,” written and directed by Jordan Peele, ushered Howery into superstar status. While other young adolescents in his West Side Chicago neighborhood were doing typical juvenile things, he was studying and mastering the art of comedy. Now as a well-respected comedian, actor, and writer, Lil Rel has become a comedic staple in Chicago and a rising star nationally. Lil Rel Howery’s new show, “Rel,” is about a loving husband who learns his wife is having an affair with his barber; the show comes on Sundays at 9:30/8:30c on FOX
“Well, what I’m grateful for is all my family, my friends and my amazing team that makes all these opportunities happen for me.”

Joey Price

Joey Price
Joey Price grew up on Chicago ‘s West Side, living in a house with his parents and grandparents. A few years later, he and his parents relocated to the West Suburbs where he attended private school until the age of fourteen. Before graduating from grade school, his grandmother passed away, and it overwhelmed him with emotions he did not know how to control. He was asked to speak at his grandmother’s funeral, but he did not know what to say. The only thing he could think of is what his eighth-grade class was learning at the time, and that was poetry. He wrote a poem about his life experiences with his grandmother.
Months and years passed and he continued writing poetry about life issues that concerned him. Eventually, he perfected his skills in poetry and his friends told him he should turn his poems into raps. At first, Joey was very skeptical about rapping, but his friends provided positive encouragement. He began writing to beats that were prominent. His songs touch on so many subjects in life, and they do not follow the trends of commercial rap. He is influenced by artists he feels he can relate to such as Lupe Fiasco, Common, Kanye West, and Andre 3000. Joey Price is full of energy, creative and prolific. With his music and youthful style, Joey Price will become the voice of his generation.
During this season, I am grateful for those whom I consider my family (blood related or unrelated). These individuals are consistently motivating me to push through and reach new heights. I am grateful for the city [Chicago] that raised me, and the people that live in it. They are a constant source of inspiration for my art.

Sanicole Young

Sanicole Young
Sanicole Young’s dream was to create a more inclusive landscape for Black women in the film industry.
The Chicago-based filmmaker’s latest film, “Training Wheels,” was the result of Sanicole’s most substantial and most lucrative self-investment yet.
According to, Sanicole Young turned her dollar and a dream into a vision for investors, and thanks to her persistence and determination, has garnered executive producers for her film including but not limited to KevOnStage, Lil’ Rel, and even some of her mentors. She is a reminder that self-investment is priceless, and when you truly believe in yourself, you can earn a return on that investment that’s beyond your imagination. San had this piece of advice for other women who struggle with the burden of their aspirations: “Whatever your heart desires, don’t let your inability to recognize your strength stop you from leaping faith to do what you love.”
 “I’m thankful for Perseverance. It’s an amazing feeling being able to achieve, regardless of tough circumstances. It’s a constant reminder of our strength.”
Chicago Defender Top 5 Tips to Enjoy Thanksgiving
Tip #1 Eat Breakfast, we all know dinner is still being prepared the day of or either an hour before the expected time everyone is to show up. You don’t want to be hungry while waiting to eat.
Tip #2 DO NOT arrive empty handed to a Thanksgiving dinner. Bring an entrée’, juice, pop, etc. –the more, the merrier.
Tip #3. Be prepared for all the questions from family members and the shade. Take it in stride and get another plate of food.
 Tip #4 Do something active with the whole family. Play music, dance together, help set the table–anything to get your body moving
Tip #5 Tell each other you love each other. Tomorrow is not promised.

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