Jamie Mayes, AOE

Archive for the ‘reality’ Category

Life in the 30’s Lane

In Culture, life, media, reality, Uncategorized on December 6, 2016 at 5:25 am

It was just a few years ago that I was terrified of my 30th birthday. A laundry list of things I felt I had not accomplished loomed over my head and I looked at the encroaching new era with hesitation and fear. It took a traveling summer, a collection of poems and a few teary-eyed break downs to prepare me to f embrace and feel comfortable with turning 30. Though I was finally able to look to the future with anticipation, nothing could have prepared me for what waited on the other side of my 29th birthday. This year, I joyfully reflect on the lessons I have learned since entering the early years of my 30’s:

  1. Life is what you make of it, not what it makes of you.

For many years, I questioned many of the experiences I had, unable to understand their relevance to my life. Yet, this past year has enlightened me in a different way. Every single experience, good or bad, short term or long term, has played a significant role in developing me into the person I am today.  Some experiences have changed the way  I view myself. Other experience has affected the way I view others. One of the most important changes was the way I view my mother and the journey that brought us closer.

The truth is that many people experience the unplanned, unfair and incomprehensible, but so many people have chosen to let life make them grand instead of letting something grand make their life. When we allow factors to control our life we only know happiness based on circumstance, but we when chose to let to control of our life we know pure joy. The best decision I ever made was to make something of this life and not to let this life make something of me.

  1. Choose obedience and everything else will fall into place.

In 2014, I made plans to move. Correction. In 2014, I made moves to move. I had a job offer, friends ready to embrace my son and me, and all the right means to make things happen.  I felt stagnant in Monroe, and I had had more than enough of the “love and energy” I  felt the town was giving me. I missed Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge always shown love to me. Then, one Sunday, I showed up at a church to share a message. I was asked to speak about Ruth and Proverbs 31. It was a teaching and learning experience that opened my spiritual senses and emotions. I broke Ruth and Proverbs 31 down so intellectually that the preacher said she didn’t think she needed a sermon anymore. Yet, before I could leave the church doors, the guest preacher would pray and have a few words.  I had never met her before and I have not seen her since, even though she lives somewhere in my town. She gave me instructions, with the most vital part being to stay in Monroe. I cried…miserably. I’m talking snot slinging, can’t breathe crying. She kept talking, reaching deep into my life, and I had no doubt God had sent her to detour my escape plan. I was crushed.

Yet, obedience has been worth the sacrifice. Many days are rough and I question God from time to time; still, I remember that obedience has yielded more blessings than I can count. He continues to blow my mind and exceed my expectation. I bow my head and remember that He gives me strength and favor and fights all my battles.

  1. I have no shame in proclaiming how much I love God.

God is not always the most popular name in the room. Atheism and agnosticism have become more and more popular. Holidays have modified from Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays and Easter has become more about eggs than the resurrection. Yet, in times when God has become increasingly unpopular, I find myself more and more excited to declare how good God is to me. There was a time when I felt uncomfortable if I didn’t know the level of God-love in the crowd. However, my as I entered my 30’s my God sensor went bananas and I have not been able to stop telling the world how good it is to know and experience a relationship with God. The peace and love of God is so valuable that no one can afford it, but He so graciously gives it away become He loves us. My goal is not to preach or to convert, but to show others that the joy I feel illuminates because I know how good God has been.

  1. Not everything and everybody need a response.

This has been a long, agonizing lesson. When I think back to my years as a young, college student who felt obligated to verbally make my feelings known, I have come such a long way. My mouth was a shotgun and I was aiming to kill. I was ruthless and I had no mercy when people hurt my feelings, betrayed my friendship or mistook my kindness for foolishness. Yet, growth and aging have taught me that not everything and everybody need a response- no matter how badly they want one from me. As tempting as it is to “put people in their place”, I had to learn how to speak when I need to and let God deal with the rest. It’s not easy- trust me, it ain’t easy. My tongue and pen are tools by which I function in this life. However, I have committed myself to growing and improving on a daily basis. That meant when I recognized how lethal my tongue was, I could no longer purposely use it to harm others even when they have used their tongue and actions to harm me. There are still some moments and situations where I dig into my vocabulary and inner being to issue a swift lashing; however, it is my last resort and one I feel no need to defend when I do. However, my goal is for God to continue to give me the strength to remember that all things are resolved in due season, good things come to those who wait, and individuals shall reap what they sow.

  1. Being “woke” is a constant state of evolving; not a specific period of life.

I don’t remember a point of my life when I was not taught about Black History. My mother taught it to me like the school system teaches Math, English, and oh yeah, History. One of the first books she ever bought me was an elementary version of the biography of Dr. King. She didn’t just tell me he marched, she taught me about his life, his wife and his speeches. She, along with many of my black teachers, went on to teach me about Brown vs. the Board of Education and host essay contests to allow me to express my black pride. By the time I got to middle and high school, I had begun studying my history and culture independently, submerging myself in the facts that school history books would never teach me. By the time I graduated from high school, I had written and directed my first Black History play in a community that was over 60% white and only 30% black.

Needless to say, being “woke” (or conscious as they used to say back in the day) has never been a problem for me. Understanding why it has taken so long for so many people to embrace their blackness, learn their history and become vocal has been a frustrating to me. Yet, I am glad to see that the awakening has arrived, but hurt to see how horrible things had to be for action to be imminent. The movement has reiterated for me what I have always believed so passionately, being “woke” is a part of life for black people. Not only must we be “woke,” we must be vocal, active, persistent and insistent. We must look racism and racial injustice in the face and call it as it, no matter the setting or audience. Racial injustice takes no break and neither can I.

  1. This is my life…

And this is such a simple phrase with so many meanings. It took years for me to realize that I am not living this life for anyone except myself. I am not obligated to accept what I do not approve. I am not to be held accountable for what I cannot control. I am not to criticize myself for being human and passionate. I am entitled to feel, to think, to react and to be.

Understanding the true essence of this phrase revolutionized who I spent time with and who I allowed to borrow my time. It changed the number of chances I gave people to betray or disappoint me, and revolutionized my expectations for myself. I work hard, pray hard and try to live the right way. I get one life and it is mine. I must live it on my terms and do what makes me joyful and happy.

 

I am 34 and loving it! I have learned so much about putting my energy and time in the right direction, and eliminating anything or anyone that aims to interrupt my peace flow. I am smiling while typing this. It’s a heck of a feeling. I feel better than India Arie when she said “I am not my hair” and “Because I am a queen.” You get the point. My 30’s were once so greatly fear, now they are so wonderfully revered.

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We are One

In Culture, justice, media, News, Race, reality, religion, Uncategorized on July 2, 2016 at 3:47 am

On June 30, I was given the prestigious honor of sharing an original piece with the community of Monroe, Louisiana during Mayor Jamie Mayo’s inaugural ceremony. The piece composed was written in efforts to acknowledge the importance of unity and the necessity to be conscious of others and societal issues during such challenging times. Written from the heart, my aim is to be honest about the challenges and truthful about the only real solution to our problem. We must realize that no matter our struggles and problems, we are one humanity that can only truly survive by being learning to work together and showing empathy to others. Below is the transcript.

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Black Crime, Black Self Hate

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, prison, Race, reality, Uncategorized on April 14, 2016 at 7:38 pm

wpid-20150828_191001.jpgLast weekend was filled with tragedy in Louisiana. At least 3 African Americans lost their lives due to violence. Emotions were charged as people took to social media to voice their frustration over such unfortunate events in such a short period of time. However, it was not the reply of my white counterparts that made me cringe and grit my teeth. My people pulled out a phrase that burns my ears worse than nails on an old school chalkboard, “How can we keep crying about racism when black people kill each other every day?” Several thoughts ran through my head every time I saw a status update, tweet or post implying that racism in America is excusable because a certain portion of a population’s race is involved in violent acts. I suppose these are the same type of people who say that slavery could not have been that bad because black people sold other black people and there were black overseers and slave owners throughout history. Their justification for injustice is justifying the acts of the unjustified against an unjustly subjugated people. Read it twice. Read it slowly.

I guess what frustrates me the most is the alarming amount of evidence we have which dispels the myth that black on black crime is the biggest crime problem in America. Yet, people fail to research information for self and, instead, believe the skewed information presented by the news and media. According to the FBI website (link below), in 2013 white people accounted for 3799 manslaughter and non-negligent crimes, while black people accounted for 4,379 of the same crime. However, that gap widened as I continued to research. White people accounted for 8,946 rape crimes, while black people only accounted for less than half of that number at 4,229. White people accounted for 183,092 arrests for aggravated assault arrests, while black people accounted for 98, 748. As matter of a fact, white people exceed black people in criminal arrests in nearly every single category, sometimes with double or trouble the number of criminal acts committed. The total criminal arrests for white people were over six million, while black people had 2.5 million total arrests. Yet, the news and media outlets and society places primary focus on incidents by black people in black neighborhoods. We, then, ostracize and criticize our own people without being properly informed. Do not worry; the link for the website is below. Let your jaw drop a little; the numbers might shock you.

Do not fully rely on statistics for a full justice report, though. One astounding lesson I have learned over the years is that there is huge number of unreported crimes within the white community. Time after time, I have gotten vicarious information or heard stories about violent incidents within my community that were “taken care of” financially or through some other type of agreement. Within my professional experience, I had been told stories by individuals who committed offenses, but were “let off” several times because of family connections or racial advantage. I know I am not the only one who is privy this information; however, many who know this information ignore it and deny its relevance to the inaccurate portrayal of blacks in America.

Instead of treating the unfortunate incidents of last weekend like two isolated cases in two different cities, many people passed judgment on a race. They pulled a race card, but not a king or queen; it seems more like the joker. As much as individuals claim to hate being judged and stereotyped, so many fellow black Americans did both as soon as news of these fatalities was released. What used to create a sense of compassion in me now causes me to seethe with frustration and anger. I keep wondering when the black population will stop believing the labels and stereotypes that have been attached to our people by people who feel threatened by us. We have such a lack of self love individually that we are willing to accept what others say about us collectively. The truth is that we can never expect to see justice from the system if we do not see the value of our own race and culture. We have to start having a better attitude towards and about our people. We must make an important realization: when we support stereotypes and negative assumptions about our people, we as individuals are included the number. Agreeing with the derogatory statements made about our race does not make us an exception. Speaking against these misrepresentations of our people is the only way to combat the problem.

For many, the argument that black people are America’s biggest problem and that the black race is violent angry race that is destroying the country with crime seems small. However, it is this belief that has contributed to the alarming number of hate crimes against black people, prejudiced attitudes and biases, lack of cultural empathy and respect, and discrimination in work places. In essence, supporting a negative view of our culture has prohibited all of our people from receiving fair and equal treatment more often. One clichéd quote is true; we cannot expect others to respect us if we do not respect ourselves. We must change our perspective of our own people, research and information others of the truth and become positive advocates for changes in policies and attitudes.

There is an important lesson I have learned over the years, and it’s that numbers don’t lie. Educate yourself, people.

FBI Website:

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43

 

 

Motivational Reflections

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 19, 2016 at 4:43 am
“Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.”
— Arthur Ashe

We are just past the half-way mark for the month of February. Indeed, it has been an action packed month for me as my students complete projects and presentations,  make daily morning announcements, and we hosted a Black History movie day to raise money for our soul food tasting event. I must admit that Black History Month is a particularly sensitive time of year for me as I meditate and reflect even more closely on the journeys, lives and experiences of African-Americans. Our experience in this country has not been a beautiful one, but it has been a grand and significant one. One that we should embrace and love even more because of the tumultuous journey we have had. For many, reflecting on the past brings about anxiety and anger, because it is hard to imagine the difficult road our people have traveled.

Yet, further reflection on the past has allowed me to see history as so many of our history makers have seen it- with pride. I often study the works of Phyllis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Maya Angelou. I read about the accomplishments of Maggie L. Walker, Madame C.J. Walker and Dr. George Washington Carver. They all had one thing in common; they did not allow racism to determine their level of achievement. Though they knew the reality of society; yet, they worked towards greatness, using their struggles as their motivation.

So often, we are tempted to let obstacles determine our level of success. However, we must remember that our ancestors made so many sacrifices so our lives could be easier.  Imagine what life would be life if we had to deal with daily personal struggles and Jim Crow Segregation Laws, restricted voting laws, and segregated schools? Though so many issues with race still exist, they hardly compare to lifblack-history-monthe for African Americans just 50 years ago! We have so much to be thankful for in 2016, but so often we allow temporary struggles to make us feel bogged down stress. We are so much d to reap the benefits of our ancestors’ work. They sowed many seeds; let us continue to cultivate them for the next generation.  Take pride in the work of our ancestors, face our struggles with courage and strength and teach our children to be leaders who advocate boldly during adversity! The great Arthur Ashe once said, “Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can,” and neither is any other obstacle one faces. Yes, you may fall thousand times, but every time you get up there should be a little more motivation to succeed. Honor our ancestors by relentlessly going for your dreams!

Stacey Dash: The Reason We Need Black History Month

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 4, 2016 at 1:05 am

This year there are several reasons I could talk about the importance of Black History Month. I can always reflect on the lack of black history and culture in school textbooks. I could reflect number of recently publicly known crimes against black people. I could discuss thesdash1 threat of the election of Donald Trump, which could subsequently lead to the deportation or re-enslavement of black people. However, none of these will suffice this year’s explanation of why the celebration of Black History Month is so imperative. This year the ultimate reason that Black History Month is so important is comical, but true, ironic, but coincidental. The ultimate reason that Black History Month is so important is- you guessed it- Stacey Dash.
Because she had the courage to say BET, black awards shows and Black History Month should be eliminated is the very reason we must celebrate Black History Month. Her unapologetic attitude about her distasteful comments regarding her own race and culture is why we must celebrate and even amplify Black History Month. Dash is a reminder that Uncle Toms and token black kids still exist, showing disdain for their culture and being willing to sell their souls for money, power, and a whiter place in society. I can see her now, sitting at table with her colleagues saying hate crimes are justified because “blacks kill blacks all of the time.” Yet, be not angered with Dash, be compassionate towards her desire to be fulfilled by public attention and need to be acknowledge. She is currently getting more media attention than she ever got as an actress; being clueless has finally paid off. Because of her, I reminded of exactly why we need Black History Month:
1. She represents a lack of self-love and pride, the biggest threat to Black History.
Dash is not the only one who has failed to embrace the beauty of blackness and black culture. Our generation suffers from a lack of self-love. Though, we have difficulty accepting the truth, black people have been taught that bone straight hair and name brand clothes from the latest white designer are the key to self-value and self respect. We have replaced the value of our culture with things that depreciate the minute a transaction is performed. History has long taught us that light skin is purer and “righter” than dark skin, and that black people came from desperation, anger and violence. Self-hate and disdain for black culture has been engraved into us like the tattoos on the forearm of a Jew, and Stacey Dash is an evident reflection of such.
2. She represents the miseducated.
It is my belief that all of Stacey Dash’s comments are not and cannot be based on her genuine beliefs. Somewhere along the way, Dash has been miseducated about at least one half of her race, maybe both halves. However, her problem is not an uncommon one. The miseducated believe that we are truly free. The miseducated believe that systems that enforced equal practices are not necessary, because America is the land of opportunity for all mankind. The miseducated believe that slavery was not as bad as people try to make it seem. They see some truth to what Dash said, and they lend an open ear perspectives of the commentators on Fox News.
Each year, my students complete a Black History project or we go through a series of mini-lessons on the experiences of black people through history. It amazes me that most of my students only know three basic black historic figures: Dr. King, Rosa Parks and the surface of Malcolm X. The most troubling problem is that they have a misunderstanding of the mission of such individuals and their philosophies and beliefs about black movements and black power. Additionally, they have also been taught that racism and race issues are history and that we no longer have to work towards equality. They, like Dash, have been severely miseducated and society has become the instructor to teach them what the community has failed to do. These lessons come with painful experiences and broken expectations, and result in misdirected energy and misplaced anger. This has caused our children to stumble along for years being forced to learn how to develop community leadership and impacting movements the hard way. Miseducation comes with a terrible price to pay.
3. She represents a dangerous future.
The honest truth is that Stacy Dash is a bigger threat to society than we admit. The alarming number of people who agree with or empathize with Dash should send an immediate notice that there is much work to be done in order to preserve the celebration of Black culture. Respect for black history and black people is diminishing at a faster rate than it ever has, and the lack of response by today’s generation is troubling.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Movements like Black Lives Matter and the Ferguson Protests send notice to America that there are young, motivated black leaders who will not take the troubles of society in a passive manner. However, is this movement massive enough? My concern is that the portion of black Americans who recognize the woes of being black in America will be overpowered by those who speak contrary to the statistically proven, undeniable truth about race relations. America continues to refuse to change laws and press charges, while using weak excuses to rationalize crimes committed against blacks. Lack of social consciousness means we are in danger of creating a dead generation, who regressive actions could send black folks back to the fields.
Yet, I must ask, what would we do without people like Dash to serve as a fresh reminder that we must continue to defy the odds and push for our culture to be remembered and respected? She is the constant reminder that though we have come far, we have even further to go. Oh, Stacey, your career has been just that, a “Dash” in time, and thankfully so. For, had you been a more significant and influential media star, your impactful ignorant just might pose a bigger threat to society. Dash is not alone in this party though; Raven Symone, Don Lemon, and the black preachers who met with Donald Trump last year are all reminders that until black people truly love black culture the journey to help others embrace our culture is quite long and difficult. Black History Month is only a small way to celebrate what black people did a country that was not capable of doing for itself. Maybe one day textbooks will tell the full story and Dash will love the skin she is in, but until then let us celebrate Black History.

What to Bring into 2016

In Culture, life, media, News, reality, Uncategorized on December 31, 2015 at 5:22 am

Ahhhh…it’s that time of year again! It’s time to a make a million resolutions we won’t keep or will keep for a very limited amount of time. True, we have good intentions. Yes, we all want to be better this year than we were last year. However, the struggle with doing something new is…well, doing something new. Self-discipline is hard; especially, when it is a sudden jump-start project. However, I learned a very important lesson years ago: life is not about waiting for something new to start something new. Life should be a constant state of evolving into a better person each day, meaning we can press reset or restart as needed. Sometimes a “restart” is needed at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of the year. In essence, life and goal achievements are about persistence, not time frames. Yes, 2015 is the end of a year, but it is also a year that ends in the middle of a season. Therefore, we should not consider 2015 to symbolize the end of a “season” of our lives, but the continuation of a journey to our destiny!
This year, I decided to focus on what I will take with me into 2016 instead of what I will leave in 2015. (The truth is if you haven’t left it behind yet, January 1st will not make much of a difference.) Examine the learning opportunities of 2015 and focus on how to implement the results of those lessons into 2016. This year has been a wonderful journey and learning experience for me, and I am excited to take the lessons and skills gained this year to higher levels next year. I am excited to strengthen the bond with friends and family and continue to enlarge my professional circle. Therefore, my ambition is no longer to focus on leaving people and things behind, because those things and people will fall by the wayside as needed. They will no longer fit into my schedule, be a part of my vocabulary or take up space in my brain that will be used for creative thinking and innovative ideas. Some of the focus points I will take from 2015 have been with me for years, but some of them are new revelations that I will eagerly bring through 2016:
N- Never give up
This is one of the most cliché phrases, but it is one of the most underestimated phrases. People say not to give up, but so many of us give up all of the time. Most importantly, we give up on things that matter to us and can revolutionize our lives. No, I am not talking about that man or woman who has been pulling the same tired stunts for the last three, five, or ten years. Nor am I talking about any other thing or person who has been draining your energy relentlessly for years. I am talking about dreams and ambitions of home ownership, a particular career, earning a degree or diploma, saving money, or yes, even true love. Never giving up means constantly finding a way to start working towards those goals. Develop a plan and began executing the first step. Set a deadline and move that deadline as needed as long as you are actively working towards your goal! Death is the only thing that separates us from our goals!
E-Expect more
The power of positive thinking is infinite. Yes, at times, situations seems almost impossible to repair, but by expect more of life, power is removed from situations and giving to thinking. Thoughts of great expectations should rule our lives. We began to expect more for and of ourselves, we then began to hold others accountable for how they treat us and how ourselves accountable for how we treat ourselves. People who expect less often live a less than mediocre life, and even mediocrity should never be acceptable. Expect more to get more!

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This is one of those on-going yearly lessons for me. I get constant crash courses in Patient Waiting 101. However, I will say that this year yielded so many of the result I had been patiently waiting to see. Some of them were results I waited a few hours to see and some were results I had waited on for over five years! Ultimately, I learned two things about waiting: make sure the wait is worthwhile or the waiting period may be even longer, and wait while working. Ultimately, patience is a faith test, an examination to see if one truly trust God for what they believe. In the end, patience pays off!
Y-Yearn for adventure
Get out of the norm at least twice this year. Go somewhere unfamiliar; do something you have always wanted to do or never thought you could do! If finances are a challenge, make it something local and free. If distance is a challenge, suck it up and fly, catch a train, ride a bus, horse or mule, but get there! Living outside of the box means more thinking outside of the box. Thinking outside of the box means more growth, more challenges, and accomplishing more goals!
E- End each day on a positive note
Every day will not be a good day. Sometimes it will seem that everything went wrong from the moment you woke up until you laid down that night. However, before you close your eyes, reflect on one thing- you still have life. This means you have a chance to do some things over, get somethings right and let some things go. Think about the good that came from every bad experience that day, and take a few minutes to write about your experiences in a journal. (I live by journaling, and all day, not just at night!) At the end other day, you are alive and you are in good enough health to pray for another chance to have a better day the next day.
A- Avoid the drama
Life is challenging, especially as an adult. Let’s be honest, we end up in situations we did not expect or plan for and crossing paths with people we normally would not invite into our circle. Sometimes, people will invite you to a stage play you did not write or even know about. However, you decide whether to entertain drama or avoid drama. Ultimately, those who do not understand their calling or role as a Christian will use drama to excite their confused or dull life. Do not give your energy to their mission. Instead, keep your eyes focus on God and your plan and the stage actors will began to perform according to your script instead of direction your actions according to theirs. This is nothing but an attempt of the enemy to divert your attention from God’s blessing. Do not be impacted; instead, say a prayer and keep it moving. Yes, foolishness can be contagious and it’s an infection no one should want!
R- Remember your identity
One of the easiest ways to become distracted from goals is to forget one’s identity. With so many influences of the world, it is easy to become conflicted or distracted by things that do not fit in with one’s ambitions. Since the visual (what we see) is so impactful, individuals must become visual when pursuing their goals. Making goals and identity visual can be done by making a vision board, journaling, posting positive and encouraging notes on your desk in your office, attending event with people who have similar ambitions, engaging in positive social organizations that promote positive goals, making a bucket lists. In essence, to remember your identity at all times, it must be placed at the forefront of the individuals mind. Therefore, each time obstacles arise, individuals will condition themselves to not be controlled by emotion, but to be controlled by their passion, which is established by knowing your identity. No matter the situation one is faced with, remember your identity.
2- Double the goal
Whatever your goal was last year, double it this year. If you aimed to put $1000 in a savings account, aim for $2000 this year. If you traveled to two cities this year, aim for four cities this year. If you made 32 new business connections last year, make 64 this. And well, if you did zero of a goal that you set last year, let’s aim for at least 1 this year. Hey, start somewhere!
0- Zero tolerance
Zero tolerance for what you may ask. Well, zero tolerance for anything you do not want to accept. So often we say what we are not dealing with anymore and then we make an exception for any person that has a soft spot in our hearts- kids, parents, friends, companions. This year “No” means “No” for anyone. If they love you, they will understand. Even if they do not like it, they will get over it. You choose what you will have zero tolerance for this year.
1- Be #1
Despite what people say, it is not selfish to be the number one concern of your life. Even if you are a parent or wife, all decision made must work well for your to work for your family or companion. Ultimately, anything that causes you stress affects your relationship with them and ability to care for them properly. While it is great and necessary to consider others, make sure that what you do for others is based on the boundaries you must set and the limit to with you can help others and not shortchange or over extend yourself. Making self-number one is the best way to give everyone your best.
6- Develop a 6 month action plan NOW
Millions, no billions, will make claim to a resolution for the New Year. DO NOT become a part of that number. Instead, develop an action plan for the first six months of the year and start on working on it as soon as you write the last line of the action plan. The goal of an action plan is to see action, so do not tuck it away somewhere. Start the first step now!
The New Year is not about a new you or and new circle, it is about a growing and changing you. A year new is not about others, it is all about a better you. With this in mind, my goal is to focus on what I will bring into a new year to make 2016 an even better one. This means not giving energy to who I plan to leave behind; only focus on who and what I plan to bring with me. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

4 Reasons I am Madder than Abby

In Culture, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on December 16, 2015 at 4:00 am

young-black-gifted_designFor the past few months, my ambition has been to slowly back away from the race relations platform. No, I am not Uncle Tomming, but I am severely frustrated and, at times, angered by a seemingly never ending situation. The insensitivity of society and refusal to address real problems has often made even me feel powerless and that no matter how strong the movement is, we do not possess enough power to see real change. It seems that we are about two steps from going back to the Jim Crow Era. I stopped reading as many articles and started flipping the television channels when proclamations of another race-related death of young black males and females is flashed across the television; each story was starting to make me nauseous.  However, a story I had heard about years ago resurfaced and initiated a movement more powerful than ever- Fisher versus the University of Texas.

Her claims that affirmative action cost her a slot at UT simply astonished me, especially after I read the article. I have just a few things to say to Little Miss Sassy Abby (I just feel like she was sassy when she was growing up.)

  1. Get your business straight

It is a well known rule, Miss Abby, that anytime you decide to come for someone, you need to have all of your “ducks in a row!” In your case, you did not just come for a person, you came for all minorities with weakly supported reasons that you did not get into the University of Texas. Your attempt to degrade an entire group of people (minorities) because of your insecurities and not quite making the cut is appalling. No longer can you pretend to act like your mediocre grades played no role in your denied admission into UT. Let’s be truthful, this was more of an ego issue, than concerned beliefs about the admissions process or a real dream to become a student of UT. Had this been about achieving your dream, you would have accepted what was offered by entering the school after a year through an alternate route. However, that was not your intention; you had to throw a temper tantrum for not getting your way, because that is what you have done all of your life. This time it did not work.

While throwing a fit about affirmative action, you failed to acknowledge the fact that you were only a mediocre student, whose denied application was a part of 42 other white students who were denied for the same reason. As a matter of a fact, Dallasnews.com, 168 black people and Hispanics were actually denied admission for the same reason, more than four times the number of whites. Tantrum over, Abby; sit down.

  1. White privilege

Abby, it has been repeatedly statistically and socially proven that white privilege is a social problem that plagues America. As a result, white Americans tend to have it easier when it comes to a list of things: getting jobs, earning grades, buying homes, being served in public places, avoiding racial profiling, being approached by the police, receiving “fair” trials in the court-of-law, the list goes on and on and on. You, little Miss Abby, are nothing but an example of the people who continue to try to deny real issues in America by either pretending they don’t exist or playing the victim or blaming the victim for their own unfortunate demise.

Mad Abby, the reason that affirmative action had to be established was so minorities could get a fair shot in situations where they are hardly ever considered. The truth is that people tend to gravitate towards people who look like them, act like them, and fit their idea of a reputable individual in order to stay in their comfort zone, such is especially the case in board rooms and meetings. Typically, you do not see people of color in these positions, alienating other races and limiting the number of fair opportunities they receive.

In addition, Mad Abby studies have been conducted that indicate that even standardized exams for college and course information for K-12 schools tend to suit the educational needs of white students while isolating minorities. Therefore, Mad Abby, your inability to meet the mark despite having exams that better accommodate you than your counterparts simply means you should have studied harder if you were going to complain.

  1.    Even though I am a bit salty with my alma mater for admitting you in the first place, LSU did..and you graduated…and they have affirmative action, too…

In the end, you took another route, Abby. Apparently, you were successful at LSU- Baton Rouge, a university that boasts a student population of over 30,000 students with just over 20% of those being minorities, and only 11% being black students in particular. (http://www.collegeportraits.org/LA/LSU/print )  The campus hosts a list of minority geared programs, events and organizations in efforts to bridge the gap. Mad Abby, I bet you were one of the students out there flying the confederate flag in LSU colors saying “It’s pride, not prejudice.” I bet you were one of the people saying that if they have African American Studies classes, they should have Caucasian Studies classes, too, because we just do not know enough about the contributions of whites in America. You are one of the students who keeps asking why they have a Black Student Union and not a White Student Union, when the entire university is pretty represented by students of the majority. I guess you should have listed LSU in that lawsuit, too, because even though they admitted you, Mad Abby, what about the thousands of oppressed white students who are denied admittance into PWI’s across this country because of affirmative action?

  1. One word…reparations.

I know the word is worn all the way out and we will never, ever, ever, ever, ever get it…but I had to pull out my whip to beat this horse one more time. Nearly every other minority race has been given some type of jump start in America because of their race related experiences- tax write offs, compensation checks, casinos, free college tuition and the list goes on. I have even been told that white students frequently and easily get scholarships to HBCU’s because they are considered the minority. Yet, hundreds of years laters, we have still never seen one penny, tax exemption or waiver in place of the 40 acres and a mule we were promised after slavery. Affirmative action is like a slight breath of life to an
almost dead person when we really consider its benefits to black folks.

Miss Petty Abby, ultimately,  I need you to ask yourself if you want to spend another eight years behaving so foolishly? Your tantrums have gotten you nothing but some media attention and, I am sure, some legal bills that cost far more than the tuition at UT. It is unfortunate that the media continues to mull over this, but I am happy to see minorities take control of the issue and take a stand against such a calamity. Maybe they can help you understand what the courts are tired of trying to prove.   I want you to ask yourself, Abby, Has not attending UT hindered my success in any way? You may argue that it has,  but the truth is that it has not. You have hindered your own success, by choosing to over indulge in the technicalities of your educational experience when the truth is that you could have gone to UT if you really wanted to. The audacity of you to be so mad when you have nothing to really be mad about! After 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow laws, the 90’s riots, no reparations for the aggravation, police violence and brutality, public racial disdain and disrespect towards the President, and an attempted discrediting of the Black Lives Matter movement, I am so much madder than you! No, Abby, you do NOT deserve to stay mad; you deserve to be told to sit down. #staymadabby #youhavenoreasontobemadaddy #iammadderthanyou

Learning to Live an Unbothered Life

In Culture, life, media, News, reality on September 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I will be the first to admit that I spent most of my life concerned about others’ opinions of me. I was insecure for manywpid-20150828_191001.jpg reasons; I was a dark-skinned, pudgy, kinky-haired little girl in Creole South Louisiana with a list of visible and invisible problems. Childhood insecurities became teen insecurities which led to adult insecurities that were multiplied with each failed relationship or broken friendship. By the time I was 23, I was swimming in a pool of emotional misery, yearning to feel a true love for myself so that I could truly love everyone who loved me.

At the tender age of 29, life began to transform and at 32 I am finally on a journey to live life unbothered. Unbothered is such a funny word to me; when the popularity of the word soared I found myself laughing at the memes depicting women in bubble baths with wine or little babies with carefree faces laying on plush pillows. However, eventually, I wanted to be a true depiction of the snapshots; I wanted to truly be unbothered.

The demands of being a grown-up places an immense amount of pressure on us to play certain roles, to behave a certain way, and in my case, to try to live as close to perfection as possible- all the while, I had been killing my soul softly. Striving to make others happy and keep the peace while living in misery blocked my ability to think clearly and inhibited my ability to be “real.” For a while, I have falsely attributed the adoption of my new attitude to motherhood, but the truth is that I started to evolve before the possibility of my son was imaginable. My search to become unbothered began when I realized all the things I had missed by living inside of a mental box, and the urgency of being unbothered was escalated when I realized the pressures of single motherhood, work, entrepreneurship and trying to get closer to God.

Thoughts of the best advice ever given to me by my 8th grade Art teacher and my 11th grade English teacher bombarded my brain repeatedly, forcing me to revisit the quote “to thine own self be true.” In essence, being true and honest with me about who I am and what my feelings were was essential to becoming unbothered. Becoming unbothered meant that I had to let go of many things and cling closer to some others. Becoming unbothered meant directing my energy to causes that matter and staying away from things that are not for my well-being or for the betterment of mankind.

In essence, I had to live my life, love myself and focus on the lifestyle my son and I deserve. In realizing who and what matters most, I was able to release myself of unfair obligations and mistreatment by others. I learned to focus on things and people who focus on me. I have chosen to find the beauty in everyday by remaining unbothered.

God & Poetry Saved Me from Suicide

In Culture, life, media, modeling, News, Race, reality on May 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

For years I have been asked what motivated me to start writing. I have only been able to give part of the truth when I told people that I used writing to help me cope with issues. The other part, the most important part of this answer, has been an uncomfortable story to tell. I have hinted at the truth, only alluding to the answer because I was afraid to give full disclosure and worried about how the answer would reflect on me. This is not an easy explanation; it is the hardest story I have ever had to tell. However, what I experienced is all too common and not talked about enough.

I have never danced around the fact that I suffered from depression most of my teen, preteen years, and some of my early adult years. Unfortunately, the illness was pervasive in my household throughout my childhood. My mother was a serious sufferer of depression and I silently fell into the same pattern, as I struggled to understand what was wrong with our family and how I could solve the problem. In our apartment in the projects, there was a broken woman in a dark room on one side of the wall, a sad little girl crying everyday on the other side of the wall, and a boy I could not understand down the hall. This scene went on for years. In addition, self-esteem problems, the absence of my father, and poverty were all issues that I understood too well too young. Though I understood the issues, I did not understand why they were a part of my life or how to escape the problems associated with them and the emotions I experienced as a result.

My depression became even darker when I was about twelve years old. There are many things I cannot remember, but of those I can recall, I remember hating everything about myself and my life and believing that no one loved me, not even God. I believed that my dark brown skin was jet-black and ugly and that I was the sole source of problems in our home. I hated waking up in the morning; each day seemed to drag on and I could not see a reason for my existence. I began to pray for God to kill me in my sleep at night. I had convinced myself that no one would miss me if I was gone, not even my family, who was doing the best they could to help our family while trying not to upset our situation even more. I thought that if I died in my sleep it would be quick and painless. I was convinced that death would be my only peace, but a few more years would pass before I would actually get the courage to consider killing myself. Yet, when the moment arrived, I stood in the kitchen with the lights off and a knife to my wrist. I had never felt more desperate and ready. With tears running down my face, I stood ready to relieve myself of all pain. As I stood in the kitchen, I prayed one last desperate prayer, If you will give me one reason to live, just one God, I won’t do this. But I just cannot take it anymore. It was the last prayer I felt I had the energy to pray, and I had given up on God. I had wondered why I had seen my mother pray so much, but it seemed that nothing about our lives had changed. I had witnessed her praying through the crack of her door and reading her bible multiple times a day when I was child; yet, she was still so unhappy. I could not understand what prayer was supposed to do, but I knew it had to do something. I wondered why I felt the need to mimic her example, but still could not see the benefits of praying. Just as I finished my ultimate plea for a reason to save my own life, God spoke to me so clearly it was as if He was in the kitchen with me. He said three simple words, Write about it. It was such an unfamiliar experience and voice that I doubted myself when I first heard the words. He repeated, Jamie, write about it. It took me a minute to compose myself, but I dried my face, put the knife in the sink and went to my bedroom. I found my school notebook and starting writing words on paper.

I began writing paragraphs about my feelings and the anger with my life and my situation. I wrote when I was happy, angry, frustrated and depressed. Some of my writings were dark and filled with rage, but the more I wrote the more I was able to release the pain that I felt. I frequently heard God speaking to me as I wrote. Sometimes I wrote multiple times a day, and sometimes I would go days without writing. Yet, I knew that my pen was my savior and it was helping me to escape my pain. Though nothing was changing at home yet, things were changing within me. I started to feel hope and my motivation to become successful drove me to excel in everything I did. Mediocrity was never acceptable; my performance always had to be exceptional. I believed that my exceptional performance would help to change so many things about my life, and though I did not see much progress, writing continued to give me hope.

After my ninth grade year of high school Mrs. Sylvia Smith (formerly Hawkes) encouraged me to enter the public speaking contest at 4-H Short Course. Given my talkative history, she thought it would be the perfect competition for a girl in an agriculture club who could not have farm animals in the projects. I loved all famous black orators, and I secretly wanted to be like Dr. King one day, though I never thought it was truly possible. I thought the writing I had been doing for the past few years might help me write a speech for a contest. My paragraphs became poems, and my poems became my first essays. I became a competitive speaker who was more enthused by sharing a positive speech than by winning; though, I went on to win and place in most of my competitions. Speaking validated my calling to share hope with others.

The irony of my life was that most people never knew my living situation or that I lived every day for many years in depression. They had no idea that the outspoken honor student who was a member and leader in almost every school organization was smiling on the outside and praying for a reason to live inside. School gave me validation, and education gave me liberation. Seeing the success of others gave me hope on wpid-11221215_852934968112718_1626851941_o.jpgthe day that I almost gave in. I am thankful that God saved me and I am living in every single moment of this life. As I hold my son, I am reminded of why I am so blessed to see every day and I frequently think to myself that I almost missed this wonderful life. Each night when I talk to my mama, I am thankful that God created such a beautiful masterpiece out of the shattered vessels that we were. When I stand on stages and talk to audiences, I think about how I almost missed the chance to share such important moments with others. All of the pain I experienced equipped me to be as strong as I am today. All of the hurt I felt gave me the compassion that I share with others. All of the depression I experienced made me appreciate true joy. All of the brokenness in my home was to bring my family even closer together in God. My friends and family frequently make jokes about how much I cry when I get emotional, but when I think of all the years I spent crying tears of pain, I want to make up for them by crying tears of joy. I am not perfect, and neither is my life, but God’s will for my life is being perfected each day. I have been freed because God and poetry saved me from suicide.

American Injustice for Black Men: Part I

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, prison, Race, reality on December 5, 2014 at 2:07 am

There is nothing new about the injustice of the American justice system. Black people have been fighting for rights in America since we arrived in America. However, after such a dramatic impact from some of history’s strongest leaders during the Civil Rights era, our race became complacent, assuming that we had finally “arrived.” Yet, the past six years have been some of the most turbulent this country has ever seen. I have found myself frequently wishing I had lived during the Civil Rights era, at least I would be openly aware of injustices and knowledgeable about how to handle them. I would be surrounded by a group of power house black

face

culturists who would train me to be a smart fighter in the midst of an unchanging society, but such is not the case. I am an eighties baby, born to a generation of entitled individuals who are satisfied with times that seem to be better than. Better than the Jim Crow Era. Better that the roaring twenties. Better than slavery. And for a while this pacified us; for, we were able to convince ourselves that the work of our ancestors was enough for us to function in a balanced and equal society and that all we had to do was enjoy the benefits and play our conforming role. This attitude has caused me many struggles because for many years I have seen America through different eyes and have understood the dangers of what seemed to be minor race issues. I kept wondering when we would have a cultural awakening and see the big picture- that several minor issues equal a big problem. A string of deaths that began long before Trayvon Martin was brutally murdered finally led to an eruption of emotions that have black people realizing that America has not progressed as much as many thought it had.

The devastation behind the deaths of several black men who were supposedly innocent until proven guilty is only the flip side of what has been wrong with the justice system for years. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the situation and received much backlash from his white counterparts months ago. The alarming rate in which black males have received long prison sentences for minor crimes and for crimes that their white counterparts have received small sentences has placed a negative stigma on the black community and greatly stinted the progress of the black community. It is the flip side of black murders committed by white cops; yet, it is just as damaging to black race as the unfortunate deaths of black men. It is ridiculous that it has taken the deaths of several men to address a problem that is not about incidents, but about a flawed system.

Our black men are moving targets, set out to be destroyed emotionally and physically, too, if necessary. For years, it has been enough to imprison them for extended periods of time. This was enough to break their spirits and place a permanent blemish in their background that would limit and, in many cases, eliminate the possibility of true recovery and true success. However, the election of a black President and a surge of the confidence and achievement in the black male community have made America take immediate action in attempt to degrade and demolish the strong black man thus weakening the black community as a whole. To justify the attacks, the justice system is manipulated by those who created it and misused to justify the crimes of those who react based on ego instead of behaving according to their occupational responsibility. What is scariest about this situation is the audacity our country’s leaders to try and defend these horrendous acts which directly violate laws and human rights. The repeated slaying of black men has finally taken a toll on the black community and we are on the heels of a serious movement in America. There are two major questions I have been unable to shake from my mind: What do we do to change a system that has been doing what it was put in place to do for so many years? Is the problem that we must change a system or we must force people to change their mentality? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to either one and I fear that we as a collective unit do not either. As I grow older, I have begun to doubt that this system is fixable and that hatred and racism will always be passed to generations in efforts to maintain control.

It does not seem that it will ever matter how much motivation a black man has; there will always be an attempt to emasculate and dehumanize him. While we are in control of our individual actions and behaviors, this does not justify the justice system’s abuse of power and mistreatment of black men. Black men have been tortured in America since they were brought to America as slaves hundreds of years ago. They struggled for their rights to be treated as humans and men back then and it is an unfortunate fight that continues now. It is devastating that black men continue to lose whether to the penitentiary or to the casket.

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