Jamie Mayes, AOE

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Am I Being Too Honest?

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2012 at 1:40 am

ImageYes, I admit, I did it. I campaigned for the President like I was part of his cabinet. I held voter registration drives, made phone calls, downloaded apps, and even held signs on the corner like my life depended on it. To a certain extent it did. For everything that surrounded my livelihood was at risk in this campaign. I believed in the president; I had avidly followed his work for four years, and I had reaped many of the benefits of the things he had accomplished. His passion and commitment to a job so serious had already convinced me that President Obama deserved more time to fix the country. However, I realized the magnitude of the challenge before him months before the election. I recalled the struggle in the first election, and I knew that the opposing party would come with extreme force in aims to remove the right candidate from the office.

However, I had completely underestimated the lengths non-supporters would go to in attempts to remove President Obama from office. This campaign was filled with more mudslinging than a red neck truck show and more false information than a five year subscription to the National Inquirer; I do not deny that both sides participated in this. The campaign took an even more interesting spin when politicians and voters from the opposing party began to make accusations that black people were only voting for the President because of his skin color. For a while I laughed at this comical statement. My laughs stiffened as the capacity of this ludicrous rumor continued to escalate infecting the viral world and the media. Black people are so simple that they vote for Barack Obama just because he’s black!

Eventually, I was angered. Who would ever believe that I was simple enough to vote for this man simply because of his race? I am an educated woman, a professional and intellectualist, and for me to be generalized in such a manner is an insult! I began defensively arguing a list of reasons to vote for the President every time I felt the need to explain myself to those in opposition of my choice. I became more politically vested in statistics than I had ever been before! Yet, during a momentary break from my rants, I had an epiphany. What if I did allow race to be the reason I voted for President Barak Obama?  The President had so many experiences and so much hardship while he was in office, much of which was solely because of his race.  These conflicts exemplified the reason that he should receive an extended stay in the White House. He had demonstrated an ability to lead and maintain professionalism despite a number of hardships that were unexplainable while holding the highest position in this country. I discovered that while many desired for the race card to be used in a negative nature, I was able to flip the card and see an even more important reason to solidify my vote and support the President.

I thought back to the early black history and I began to scribble vigorously in my notebook.  As I wrote, the reasons continued to flow, resulting in the conclusion that perhaps there was a little truth to the accusations. There was a unique strength in President Obama’s experience that many would never be able to understand and very few would be able to match. Had his race been of another, there is doubt that his experience and demeanor would be the same. I was forced, in the end, to accept that perhaps there is a portion of me that voted for the President because he is black.

Reason Enough

For over 350 years skin has been reason enough to exclude me,

Now there are questions about whether skin is reason enough to be.

I recall a story about some laws by Jim Crow,

The browness of my people’s skin made them society’s foe.

Because of a pigmentation difference we were pushed to the back,

Because of skin color we were lazy niggers and too black.

Those with a darker tan had to enter through the rear door,

They were lucky to live in a shack and expected to want nothing more.

Prayers for power versus prayers for freedom kept black and white on their knees,

But it was black bodies that were suspended from country road oak trees.

It was the pink tongue that put spit on a many tar babies’ face,

I wasn’t the one who started it; you keep bringing up race.

Dr. King, Malcolm, and Medgar had to die so I could live,

Yes, because they were so black, their lives they had to give.

So when Obama arrived my black hope burst through my chest,

And because our skins can relate I knew he was the best.

They sought to destroy him in every facet of the election,

But as many dark skinned ones know, he was under the Protection.

Folks keep saying that skin isn’t a reason to vote,

But the elevation of a courageous black man I must promote.

Of all the things we were denied because of the color our skin,

How dare one say to me that a darker hue is not reason to vote him in.

He is the defiance of nearly every stereotype assigned to a categorized sector,

If you know like I know a black man is the best protector.

For him, I will fore go my forty acres and my mule,

Because President Obama is a defiance of all society’s rules.

Still, I must clarify for those who accuse me of complexion bias,

It was and has been because of his amazing work that I could deny this.

Why I chose him has nothing to do with color,

It is his ability to handle adversity like no other.

When our country was at its worst President Obama gave his best,

Even when disrespected he never gave the fight a rest.

He saved this great American land so fair and free,

He ignored all of those who disrespected a man of dignity.

He was verbally berated by those who wear an invisible hood

Yet, for all mankind’s right my black president stood.

If you can, show me another who can take such heat,

Even the great Abraham Lincoln may have felt some defeat.

Folks keep claiming that he’s the most influential president that was ever in,

But I say Obama just because of his skin.

I’d never be simple enough to support only because he’s a shade of brown,

But because he’s an aristocratic, emphatic black man I chose to hold him down.


English Changed My Language

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I pulled out this oldie, because it is one of my favorite articles!  Read and enjoy!

“There’s a world out there people.” -Martha Lou Roberts

Every person has at least one teacher who influenced their life in some way. Whether they were blessed with the over the top perfectionist or the teacher who seemed to be a colorful cheery bottomless pit of love, there was something about that teacher that stood out. I was fortunate to have several teachers who either gave me the strong arm of discipline or wide open arms of love. There was Mrs. Self, my Head start teacher who made the best rice krispies ever.  Ms. Simmons who was young in age but firm in fifth grade demands, Mrs. Ayo who let me practice speech after speech during and after her class time. And the list doesn’t stop there- Mrs. Reeves, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Lalande, Mrs. Meadows, Mrs. Woods, 1st Sgt. Carroll, Mrs. Menendez, and perhaps, a few others whose names may have slipped but their impact still remains. While each of these teachers played a tremendous role in my life and encouraged me to be my best, there was yet another who taught me a lesson that I would use and apply for the rest of my life.

There was no surprise that Martha Lou Roberts would be my English III CP teacher. She was a pro at teaching English and a veteran in the field of education. I had long heard the horror stories about how she set expectations on a level so high that a professional mountain climber could not meet them. She had voice so stern that it would send chills to your soul colder than a winter day in Greenland. Yet, no story or tale could prepare me for an experience that would affect my destiny.

Mrs. Roberts was a superb writing instructor whose ambition was to train her students to comprehend well and become great writers. We read, composed, edited, and finalized more papers than a law student at Harvard. So, there was nothing unusual or surprising when she required us to write an essay for the annual Veteran’s day contest hosted by a local organization. The prize would be a $500 savings bond.The thought of the prize money made my heart tremble with excitement. Five hundred dollars in any form was a lot of money for a girl living in the projects. I wanted that money! For two days, I worked vigorously to compose a paper explaining why Veteran’s day was import to me.  My ultimate goal was to impress the judges, who were Veterans, with an all American response to their question. I excitedly threw around terms like melting pot, apple pie, American flag, liberty, and freedom. As I scribbled the last line onto my paper, I smiled in assurance that Mrs. Roberts would be highly impressed with my composition. I slept comfortably that night as I imagined the smile on my face when I laid my finely written essay on her desk the next morning.

While I believed that my work was a masterpiece Mrs. Roberts would quickly bring me back to reality. Two days later she returned my prestigious workmanship with a huge red “D” and a note that said “SEE ME!” Heat ran to my ears and my heart pounded as I mentally declared that she had to be crazy. This was the best paper of all her students’ work! What more could she want? Immediately following the bell, I marched to her stool centered in front of the class where she sat perched like DeRidder High Schools’ primp and pretty princess. With an outer appearance of anger, but an inner emotion of sheer devastation, I asked why she had ruined my paper. She gently took my paper, looked into my eyes, and gave an answer I never expected. I had thought, perhaps, my grammar was incorrect in a few sentences or my ideas were underdeveloped. Maybe I had not formatted my paper correctly. She summed up the issue in only a few sentences. “Jamie, you are a good writer and this is a great paper,” she began, “but this sounds like something you’ve heard before.” It took a few minutes for her words to process in my brain. I was offended; it seemed that she was accusing me of plagiarism! “Not plagiarism,” she seemed to read my mind, “It just seems that these are things you’ve heard others say before. This is not you. I know you. Go home and rewrite it.” She was accusing me of something much more serious than plagiarism. I was accused of being a fake, a suck up, and not keeping it real. Her insult gut punched me in the gut like a prize winning boxer, and I was mad! She returned my paper to my shaking hands and never lost her composure. Mrs. Martha Lou Roberts remained perched on her stool and I marched out of her class in a furry.

Her words ran through my head all day. The truth was that she was right. Mrs. Roberts had been my Student Council sponsor for one year and she knew I was very proactive at school, so her comments were not because she did not know me. She knew me and she was right. Yet, this paper was not about me; it was about a $500 scholarship and for that scholarship I had to convince to the judges! For Mrs. Roberts to challenge me proclaiming that I was not being me changed the contest from me against my fellow students to me versus Mrs. Roberts.

I began rewriting the essay at school and put the finishing touches on it at home after frantically telling my mother about the English teacher who ticked me off! The next morning I marched to Mrs. Roberts’ class and handed her my paper, barely making eye contact, still angry about her disapproval of my initial work.  Class proceeded as normal, and I sat in my desk anxiously awaiting a follow-up regarding my new essay. At the ringing of the bell, Mrs. Roberts called me to her desk. Just as she finished scribbling her last note at the top of the paper, she placed it in my hands. I was nervous, nearly sweating as I prepared to look at the new chicken scratch at the top of my paper. On the top left corner was inscribed 93/A. Mrs. Roberts looked at me and stated crisply, “This is more like it. I understand you would like the scholarship, but never sell yourself for money. Always be true to yourself.”  I wanted to be angry; I wanted to lash out about how she knew nothing about me. How I needed this money more than she imagined. Yet, I knew she knew what mattered. I was talented, I was capable, and I needed to be real.

That experience has impacted everything I’ve written since that day and will continue to affect the rest of my life. I understood that if I aimed to be a writer in the truest nature, I had to avoid trying to impress the masses and compose from my soul. For what does the power of the pen matter if it is used in vain? Mrs. Roberts challenged me with a task so valuable that I share this story and those words with a new group of students each year. In every aspect of living and in writing each poem, story, or essay, I have pledged to remain true to myself. Beside, Mrs. Martha Lou Roberts would not have it any other way.

©2012 by Motivational Inspirations

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